Two Tuesday dog poems

John Tranter gave me permission to use this poem of his a while ago, and today seems the right moment for it.

by John Tranter

There you are, your paws on my knees,
your head tilted to one side. You gaze at me
with that puzzled look, your eyes full of
loyalty and complicated queries.
That cat I chased yesterday, where is it?
Who is that stranger? What’s that scent?
Can we go for a walk now, and explore
the paths that wind through the park by the bay?

Wise creature, you know where that bone
is buried, where the rats hide in their burrow
by the water, why the cat fears you.
You know many subtle facts, old friend,
except for one sad particular: how
brief a time we have left together.

And then I remembered a Billy Collins dog poem, which seems to rhyme rather well with John Tranter’s.

by Billy Collins

As young as I look,
I am growing older faster than he,
seven to one
is the ratio they tend to say.
Whatever the number,
I will pass him one day
and take the lead
the way I do on our walks in the woods.
And if this ever manages
to cross his mind,
it would be the sweetest
shadow I have ever cast on snow or grass.

I came across a good quote from Billy Collins when I was looking for a photo of him with his dog (couldn’t find one). Here’s the quote: “Putting a dog into a poem is always a good idea. It’s an instant connection that people are drawn to. Who doesn’t like the occasional dog running on to the scene just as things were getting a little too serious?”

More Tuesday Poems — from the U.K., New Zealand, Italy and Australia — can be found here.

10 Responses to “Two Tuesday dog poems”

  1. Elizabeth Welsh Says:

    Serene, calm, honest poems – I love them both, Belinda. I particularly like Billy Collins’ quote, re: the dog running in to the scene, lifting the mood. They have that peculiar ability to live wholly in the now, which is so endearing. I really love Mary Oliver’s poems to her dog, Percy, particularly ‘I ask Percy how I should live my life’.

  2. Helen McKinlay Says:

    Really enjoyed this doggy post, Belinda. ‘your eyes full of
    loyalty and complicated queries’. Like the way John deals with this age old topic with originality. Gentle but not sentimental. And the poem and comment by Billy C. What’s not to like :-)

  3. Leah McMenamin Says:

    Oh lovely! I have a pet dog I’m very fond of, and I love all they stand for in these poems; that loyalty and gentleness, affection, those wise dark eyes that always seem to be pondering something.

  4. admin Says:

    Yes – we can’t do ‘wholly in the now’ at all, but dogs do that entirely.

  5. admin Says:

    I love John Tranter’s poem, too – very glad you liked it.

  6. admin Says:

    This age-old relationship humans have with dogs is an absorbing subject, isn’t it?

  7. Michelle Elvy Says:

    Yes, a refreshing change of pace (and I’m not even a dog ‘lover’ per se). I saw Ian Wedde read twice a few months ago and both times he included poems with his dog Vincent. Which left just as great an impression as some of his other work. :)

  8. admin Says:

    I’m not in the dog ‘lover’ camp, either, Michelle – which makes these poems even more interesting to me!

  9. Penelope Says:

    I hope I never have to live without a dog. It really would be a half-life, without a tail to punctuate the day. Enjoyed these, Belinda.

  10. admin Says:

    What a lovely comment!

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