Friday, January 21, 2011

Poetry Friday: The Little Dogs Day

In searching for the perfect poem to round out my Margaret Wise Brown Blogapalooza this week, I came across The Little Dogs Day by the incredibly gorgeous Rupert Brooke. (His gorgeousness was attested to by William Butler Yeats who, if you believe Wikipedia, called him "the most beautiful young man in England." If this picture does Brooke justice, I'd say Yeats was spot on in his judgment.)

Brooke was a British poet writing during the World War I years. The Little Dogs Day was written in 1907, three years before Margaret was born. Brooke was 20-years old at the time, and would be dead within eight years. 

His and Margaret's lives took somewhat similar paths in their choice of careers, lovers, and death dances. They both died young in French hospitals. Brooke actually died on a French hospital ship moored off the coast of Greece. He'd developed sepsis from an infected mosquito bite. Margaret died in a French hospital in Nice following abdominal surgery to remove an ovarian cyst and her appendix. She was just about fully recovered and ready to be discharged. To prove how great she was doing, she did a can-can kick, dislodging the embolism that had formed in her leg. She died almost instantly. Talk about crazy death dances.

And so, I wanted something to tie in with Margaret. I'd thought maybe to do a poem on dying young, but I wanted something jollier for Margaret. Margaret was crazy about dogs, so I searched out dog poems. I loved The Little Dogs Day right off the bat. I couldn't find the image of this little dog making like Frank Sinatra and doing it his way more appealing.

The Little Dog's Day

  All in the town were still asleep,
  When the sun came up with a shout and a leap.
  In the lonely streets unseen by man,
  A little dog danced. And the day began.

All his life he'd been good, as far as he could,
And the poor little beast had done all that he should.
But this morning he swore, by Odin and Thor
And the Canine Valhalla--he'd stand it no more!

So his prayer he got granted--to do just what he wanted,
Prevented by none, for the space of one day.
"Jam incipiebo[1], sedere facebo[2],"
In dog-Latin he quoth, "Euge! sophos! hurray!"

He fought with the he-dogs, and winked at the she-dogs,
A thing that had never been heard of before.
"For the stigma of gluttony, I care not a button!" he
Cried, and ate all he could swallow--and more.

He took sinewy lumps from the shins of old frumps,
And mangled the errand-boys--when he could get 'em.
He shammed furious rabies, and bit all the babies,
And followed the cats up the trees, and then ate' em!

They thought 'twas the devil was holding a revel,
And sent for the parson to drive him away;
For the town never knew such a hullabaloo
As that little dog raised--till the end of that day.

  When the blood-red sun had gone burning down,
  And the lights were lit in the little town,
  Outside, in the gloom of the twilight grey,
  The little dog died when he'd had his day.
[Footnote 1: Now we're off] [Footnote 2: I'll make them sit up.]  
Join the pack at Tara Smith's A Teaching Life for Poetry Friday.
Then go out and high kick your way through the kind of day you want to have. 


Diane Mayr said...

I'm sorry the little dog died, but he really shouldn't have been so mean to the cats. As my late mother used to say, "God is punishing him."

And yes, Rupert was a hottie!

Mur said...

A perfect poem for Margaret--she of the rabbit's foot collection. Just enough blood and gore to satisfy her.

Hannah said...

Hi Andy!
First, thanks for visiting me at A Quiet Spot. How funny that we both thought of dogs this week! Someone else from Poetry Friday presented a dog poem, although I can't remember at the moment whom. It was similarly humorous.

Second, I am so aghast at the story of MWB's death. I can just hear the sinister film music swelling in the background as she innocently burst into that can-can. Yikes!

I'm Jet . . . said...

rupert = eye candy.

death by can can. so sad.

laurasalas said...

Hi Andy--Plenty of dark humor today! I'd never heard how MWB died. My, what a drama queen!

And what a bloodthirsty little poem. Love it! It put me in mind a little of Billy Collins' The Revenant:

Not in voice, but in the unexpected actions/thoughts of a dog. I love The Revenant--so wry.

Andy said...

Oooo! I loved The Revenant. Thanks, Laura! And thanks, everybody, for sharing your thoughts.