I realize now the title is a bit misleading: this post unfortunately won’t be a recounting of a discussion between Bryon and Ostriker. I understand if you feel mislead and would like to leave.
Rather, I thought it’d be fun to look at two different poems that honor the virtues of dogs: one the intangible merits and the other a look at the unbridled joy. To that end, I’ve included a few photos of Blackjack, a dog friend of mine that takes an inordinate amount of pleasure from chasing his Frisbee.
Curious to see the other poems from the month? Check out the original National Poetry Month post!
Bryon’s epitaph for his 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.
Alice Ostriker: The Dogs at Live Oak Beach, Santa Cruz
As if there could be a worldOf absolute innocenceIn which we forget ourselves
The owners throw sticksAnd half-bald tennis ballsToward the surfAnd the happy dogs leap after themAs if catapulted—
Black dogs, tan dogs,Tubes of glorious muscle—
Pursuing pleasureMore than obedienceThey race, skid to a halt in the wet sand,Sometimes they’ll plunge straight intoThe foaming breakers
Like diving birds, letting the green turbulenceToss them, until they snap and sink
Teeth into floating woodThen bound back to their ownersShining wet, with passionate speedFor nothing,For absolutely nothing but joy.