In honor of National Dog Day, some poets and their dogs

“Twice Flush had done his utmost to kill his enemy; twice he had failed. And why had he failed, he asked himself? Because he loved Miss Barrett. Looking up at her from under his eyebrows as she lay, severe and silent on the sofa, he knew that he must love her forever. Things are not simple but complex. If he bit Mr. Browning, he bit her too. Hatred is not hatred; hatred is also love.”

-From Flush, Virginia Woolf’s biography of Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s beloved cocker spaniel

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Lord Byron wrote this on the headstone of his beloved dog, Boatswain:

“Near this Spot
Are deposited the Remains of one
Who possessed Beauty without Vanity,
Strength without Insolence,
Courage without Ferocity
And all the Virtues of Man without his Vices.
This praise, which would be unmeaning Flattery
If inscribed over human Ashes,
Is but a just tribute to the Memory of
BOATSWAIN, a DOG,
Who was born in Newfoundland May 1803,
And died at Newstead Nov. 18, 1808.”

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“People who lived here long ago
Did by this stone, it seems, intend
To name for future times to know
The dachs-hound, Geist, their little friend.”

-From Matthew Arnold’s poem “Geist’s Grave,” a tender elegy on the loss of his dachshund.

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“I started Early — Took my Dog —
And visited the Sea —
The Mermaids in the Basement
Came out to look at me –”

-Emily Dickinson, on Carlo, the dog she received as a gift from her father

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“In wood and wild, ye warbling throng,
Your heavy loss deplore;
Now, half extinct your powers of song,
Sweet Echo is no more.

Ye jarring, screeching things around,
Scream your discordant joys;
Now, half your din of tuneless sound
With Echo silent lies.”

-From Rober Burns’s “Epitaph on a Lap-dog”

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“Buy a pup and your money will buy
Love unflinching that cannot lie–
Perfect passsion and worship fed
By a kick in the ribs or a pat on the head.
Nevertheless it is hardly fair
To risk your heart to a dog to tear.”

-From Rudyard Kipling’s “The Power of the Dog”

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“Joyful, joyful, joyful,
as only dogs know how to be happy
with only the autonomy
of their shameless spirit.”

-From Pablo Neruda’s “A Dog Has Died”

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“We don’t have a future,
we have a dog.”

-From “Atlantis” by Mark Doty

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“Mornings I walk the dog: that part of life
is intact.”

-From “Christmas Away from Home” by Jane Kenyon

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