Dog Poetry Sunday – Mary Oliver

I am trying to expand the breadth of my reading. As I’ve discussed, poetry is far from my typical scope. I am learning how much I have missed by ignoring this area of creative scholarship. In truth, my ignorance is based in fear. Poetry takes more work than a novel. Even Faulkner seems more approachable to me than Milton. It seems too sentimental and requires a deep knowledge of abstract reference. I am not literary enough.

Nevertheless, if I am going to continue to attack the concept of pretentiousness, if I am going to prove that beer and Puccini are natural pairs, then I will have to conquer my aversion to the poetic form. As I believe Proust can be appreciated by even my blue collar class, so can Whitman.

What better way to begin this journey than to seek out poems on my favourite subject? I would love to share some of the verses I unearth, if you will indulge me. Even if you won’t, I intend on doing so anyway. As the first instalment of Dog Poetry Sunday, I feel it most appropriate to share my favourite from Mary Oliver’s collection entitled Dog Songs. It was the first book to make me reconsider my nervosity of poetry.


“Little Dog’s Rhapsody in the Night”, by Mary Oliver

He puts his cheek against mine
and makes small, expressive sounds.
And when I’m awake, or awake enough

he turns upside down, his four paws
in the air
and his eyes dark and fervant.

“Tell me you love me,” he says.

“Tell me again.”

Could there be a sweeter arrangement? Over and over
he gets to ask.
I get to tell.

6 thoughts on “Dog Poetry Sunday – Mary Oliver

  1. I actually really like that poem, which is mad because I don’t like poetry. I had a teacher at school who ruined it for me and so I give it a wide birth!


  2. Mary Oliver is a great place to start with poetry, especially for the dog-loving sort! I really love her collection “American Primitive.”

    Other great modern poets you may like: Robert Hass, Marie Howe, Louise Gluck, Robert Pinsky, Charles Simic, and Philip Levine

    (My husband has his MFA in poetry, so I’ve learned what little I know from him!)


  3. I love poetry and am so glad you have decided to add this feature. I can’t quote much but I love what can be such a simple form. Not big on the sonnets and stuff like that but the poem you shared – that I like.

    (PS – nervosity. I see what you did there. 😉


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