Saturday, October 15, 2011

"The Last Orphan Leaf Of Naked Tree"

By posting the following poem, it is not my intention to take sides in the evergreen dogs versus cats contest.  (I have likely exposed my preferences in a previous post, although I am certainly fond of cats as well.)  Rather, I find the image in the first three lines to be both clever and seasonally apt.  (And I do think that it is a fine dog poem, unexpectedly coming from an eccentric poet who is probably best known for his obsession with death.)

                                    Howard Phipps, "Shepherd's Walk"

     Sonnet: To Tartar, a Terrier Beauty

Snow-drop of dogs, with ear of brownest dye,
Like the last orphan leaf of naked tree
Which shudders in bleak autumn; though by thee,
Of hearing careless and untutored eye,
Not understood articulate speech of men,
Nor marked the artificial mind of books,
-- The mortal's voice eternized by the pen, --
Yet hast thou thought and language all unknown
To Babel's scholars; oft intensest looks,
Long scrutiny o'er some dark-veined stone
Dost thou bestow, learning dead mysteries
Of the world's birth-day, oft in eager tone
With quick-tailed fellows bandiest prompt replies,
Solicitudes canine, four-footed amities.

Thomas Lovell Beddoes (1803-1849), Poems (1851).

                                 Tirzah Garwood, "The Dog Show" (1930)


Julie Whitmore Pottery said...

Oh I like Beddoes so much! And I've never read this. I have to smile at your apologetic tone about cats vs. dogs. Sounds just like me......

Stephen Pentz said...

Julie: I confess that I am not very familiar with Beddoes -- only a few poems that I have come across in anthologies. I vaguely remember a strange one about a crocodile, which I'll have to track down again. But when I came across the dog sonnet I was surprised: it didn't seem like the Beddoes I thought I knew.

As to dogs and cats: well, I do like cats. But . . .

As always, thank you for stopping by.