National Poetry Day UK 02.10.2014 #thinkofapoem

National Poetry Day(UK) #thinkofapoem – In memory of my darling Keema who loved poetry, classical music, the sea, forests, rivers, running through dry leaves and after squeeky balls, eating snow, stones and sausages (but not banana’s) and who sadly passed away two weeks ago on the 18th September, just after her 13th birthday. I miss her.

A DOG HAS DIED
By Pablo Neruda
(trans. By Alfred Yankauer)

My dog has died.
I buried him in the garden
next to a rusted old machine.
Some day I’ll join him right there,
but now he’s gone with his shaggy coat,
his bad manners and his cold nose,
and I, the materialist, who never believed
in any promised heaven in the sky
for any human being,
I believe in a heaven I’ll never enter.
Yes, I believe in a heaven for all dogdom
where my dog waits for my arrival
waving his fan-like tail in friendship.
Ai, I’ll not speak of sadness here on earth,
of having lost a companion
who was never servile.
His friendship for me, like that of a porcupine
withholding its authority,
was the friendship of a star, aloof,
with no more intimacy than was called for,
with no exaggerations:
he never climbed all over my clothes
filling me full of his hair or his mange,
he never rubbed up against my knee
like other dogs obsessed with sex.
No, my dog used to gaze at me,
paying me the attention I need,
the attention required
to make a vain person like me understand
that, being a dog, he was wasting time,
but, with those eyes so much purer than mine,
he’d keep on gazing at me
with a look that reserved for me alone
all his sweet and shaggy life,
always near me, never troubling me,
and asking nothing.
Ai, how many times have I envied his tail
as we walked together on the shores of the sea
in the lonely winter of Isla Negra
where the wintering birds filled the sky
and my hairy dog was jumping about
full of the voltage of the sea’s movement:
my wandering dog, sniffing away
with his golden tail held high,
face to face with the ocean’s spray.
Joyful, joyful, joyful,
as only dogs know how to be happy
with only the autonomy
of their shameless spirit.
There are no good-byes for my dog who has died,
and we don’t now and never did lie to each other.
So now he’s gone and I buried him,
and that’s all there is to it.
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6 comments

    1. Thank you Robert, you’re so kind. How are you getting on without your buddy? Twelve years is a long time. It’s the quietness, the empty space and the way everything has somehow lost its lustre that I find hard. Is it the same for you?

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  1. The empty space! I still find myself talking to him – he was a great critic of poetry – and I feel, too, that I somehow let him down, even though I know that’s not true. He was a fine dog and I miss him.

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    1. You’re right it’s not true, don’t torture yourself Robert. You’re only human. You have twelve years full of fun memories and I guarantee your dog would prefer to see you happy, not suffering, and maybe his poetic soul is saying something to you like this:

      Sonnet XCIV
      Pablo Neruda

      If I die, survive me with such a pure force
      you make the pallor and the coldness rage;
      flash your indelible eyes from south to south,
      from sun to sun, till your mouth sings like a guitar.

      I don’t want your laugh or your footsteps to waver;
      I don’t want my legacy of happiness to die;
      don’t call to my breast: I’m not there.
      Live in my absence as in a house.

      Absence is such a large house
      that you’ll walk through the walls,
      hang pictures in sheer air.

      Absence is such a transparent house
      that even being dead I will see you there,
      and if you suffer, Love, I’ll die a second time.

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