Canis familiaris: man’s best friend. Dogs have followed at our heels from our earliest hunts and have remained our faithful companions through thick and thin, triumph and disaster. At every age of history and at every stage of our lives, we look to dogs for friendship, love, labor, understanding, admiration, and compassion. And yet they give us far more than even all that.
From Diogenes to Clarice Lispector, our most beloved writers and poets have been receptive to canine inspiration, and Dog Poems brings together their wisdom, their wit, their insight, their empathy, and—of course—their sense of humor. Dogs speak archly in Pope’s “On the Collar of a Dog.” They lap up praise in Stevie Smith’s “O Pug!” and Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s “Dog,” we contemplate our four-legged friends, and in doing so, our own fragile and compromised humanity. Ezra Pound muses, Pablo Neruda mourns, and Dylan Thomas sings. Gertrude Stein’s famous quip—“I am I because my little dog knows me”—rings true: in understanding their dogs, these writers come a little closer to knowing themselves. And we’re all the better for it.