Dog Poetry Sunday – Sassoon

Today’s poem and poet was introduced to me by the venerable writer of Will My Dog Hate Me and Freud’s Butcher. One can say what she likes about Facebook but if it wasn’t for social media, I would have missed out on many scholarly treasures. Not to mention, countless adorable cat videos. This particular status update linked to a post on NPR about a dog’s one hundredth birthday. The whole thing is worth reading – it isn’t long – and of course, being Sunday, I was thrilled to find the several lines of verse included at the end.

From what I have learned, Sassoon was an English poet writing from the trenches of World War I. He was recommended for the Victoria Cross for his bravery in action on the Western Front and for his superior leadership skills. Given the atrocities he witnessed, it is understandable the writer suffered from mental health challenges and became more known for his opposition to the war than for his literary talents.

I am not surprised I had not heard of him before. My focus has always drifted towards the 19th century. Yet I am the first to admit that I am missing out. From my limited reading tonight Siegfried Sassoon sounds like someone I would like to get to know. What better place to begin than with his poem about a man and his dog?

I am sure we can all relate to the words below. Immediately I am brought back to the woods in Beford, Nova Scotia, where Shiva and I would explore without restraint. Running in large circles around me, stopping and sniffing at whim, and then chasing to catch up, Shiva was free and as close to perfectly happy as she can be. So was I. It was our space; we could commune and connect. I hope to find a similar forest again.

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Man and Dog, by Siegfriend Sassoon

Who’s this — alone with stone and sky?
It’s only my old dog and I —
It’s only him; it’s only me;
Alone with stone and grass and tree.

What share we most — we two together?
Smells, and awareness of the weather.

What is it makes us more than dust?
My trust in him; in me his trust.

Here’s anyhow one decent thing
That life to man and dog can bring;
One decent thing, remultiplied
Till earth’s last dog and man have died.

EN: Just in case you are wondering, I may have missed posting here yesterday due to a camping trip to Pigeon Lake, but I didn’t forget my writing obligations. If interested, you can find my handwritten post here.

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