In writing about September’s 9th’s theme, I thought about poems that give cats and dogs human attributes and qualities.

In “Mourning for Cats,” Margrit Attwood speaks of how cats look like us.

YorkieAndCatWe get too sentimental

over dead animals.

We turn maudlin.

But only those with fur,

only those who look like us,

at least a little.

Those with big eyes,

eyes that face front.

Those with smallish noses

or modest beaks.

No one laments a spider.

Nor a crab.
Hookworms rate no wailing.

Fish neither.

Baby seals make the grade,

and dogs, and sometimes owls.

Cats almost always.

newstead-abbeyIn these lines taken from the epitaph Lord Byron wrote for the gravestone of his beloved Newfoundland, Boatswain is seen as Byron’s one true friend:

To mark a friend’s remains these stones arise; 
I never knew but one—and here he lies.

 
 
 
 

And here’s a favorite of mine, a deceptively simple couplet, “The Span of Life,” written by Robert Frost in 1936:

The old dog barks backwards without getting up.
I can remember when he was a pup.

Each of the 16 words in this poem works hard to give meaning. The poet describes a dog who by his actions seems to say, “Don’t bother me, I’ve lost my zest for life.” By using the word “The” to begin the first line, I think the poet tells us about all old dogs and perhaps old men. In the second line the poet finds something about himself in the dog. “I can remember…” At 52 when Frost wrote the poem, he was getting on in age, but he was not yet too old to remember his early years as a frisky young pup.

~alw

 
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