I know that my dog …

I know that my dog was
naturally happy then,
when she slipped away
that time and became
aquatic for an hour.

I circled the large pond
(or small lake) with my son
but it was useless to yell.
She was in another world,
chasing waterfowl.

All I could do was stare
and hope and wait like a
patient hunter/gatherer.
(Perhaps she felt she
was getting us dinner.)

The law seemed gone,
and we become primaeval.
A dog. A boy. A man.
And the kangaroos near
the water. Elemental.
Instinctive. For a while.

How many times do you
get off the leash in life?
How many hours over
the long years?
Have you thought of that?
When she came back,
luckily without a duck,
I gave her a rough pat.


(Julian O’Dea)


8 responses to this post.

  1. Do you know Cowper’s charming poems about Beau, his spaniel? I’m reminded especially of “The dog and the water lily” though his other piece written when his dog killed a bird is even better. (Google “On a Spaniel, Called ‘Beau,’ Killing a Young Bird” and “Beau’s reply” – unfortunately I couldn’t find a link with both of them on the one page).


  2. Cowper’s circle may have been small, just a few friends and his pets essentially, but within that circle he wrote some wonderful works. He has a lovely letter, “My three hares”, about the personalities of three pet hares he kept. His poetry is certainly worth a read.


    • Posted by Julian O'Dea on February 21, 2016 at 10:51 am

      Lytton Strachey: “The letters of Cowper, though they rank high in English literature, do not require much comment. As far as they go, they are perfect, but they hardly go anywhere at all. Their gold is absolutely pure; but it is beaten out into the thinnest leaf conceivable. They are like soap-bubbles – exquisite films surrounding emptiness, and almost too wonderful to be touched.”


      • Perhaps but I think his gift for simplicity and elegance of language makes this appear so; many other writers would say just the same thing as Cowper yet with much more orotund and sophisticated language, and thus appear to be more meaningful and artistic than Cowper.

      • Posted by Julian O'Dea on February 21, 2016 at 11:29 pm

        I bought a copy of Strachey’s Literary Essays a couple of years ago, chiefly to read his essay on “English Letter Writers”. I was a bit disappointed by it. In fact, I found the short essay on Chinese poetry, “An Anthology”, the most satisfying.

        (I have a book of 18th Century English letters, including some of Cowper’s, but I have presently mislaid it.)

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