Dr. Weeks’ Comment: Robinson Jeffers wrote some of the best insightful poetry of the 20th century from his perch above the Pacific. The Purse Seine (1937) and Shine Perishing Republic (1963) and The Answer (1963) offer piercing insight into the nature of man in society and our best options. He seldom wrote of romanticism and of love, this was his best: the House Dog’s Grave (below). Only Thornton Wilder in the Bridge of San Luis Rey got it better. “Many who have spent a lifetime in it can tell us less of love then the child that lost the dog yesterday.”
The House Dog’s Grave
Robinson Jeffers (1887-1962)
“I’ve changed my ways a little; I cannot now
Run with you in the evenings along the shore,
Except in a kind of dream; and you,
If you dream a moment,
You see me there.
“So leave awhile the paw-marks on the front door
Where I used to scratch to go out or in,
And you’d soon open; leave on the kitchen floor
The marks of my drinking-pan.
“I cannot lie by your fire as I used to do
On the warm stone,
Nor at the foot of your bed; no,
All the nights through
I lie alone.
“But your kind thought has laid me less than six feet
Outside your window where firelight so often plays,
And where you sit to read-
And I fear often grieving for me-
Every night your lamplight lies on my place.
“You, man and woman, live so long, it is hard
To think of you ever dying.
A little dog would get tired, living so long.
I hope that when you are lying
Under the ground like me your lives will appear
As good and joyful as mine.
No, dears, that’s too much hope:
You are not so well cared for as I have been.
And never have known the passionate undivided
Fidelities that I knew.
Your minds are perhaps too active, too many-sided…
But to me you were true.
“You were never masters, but friends. I was your friend.
I loved you well, and was loved. Deep love endures
To the end and far past the end. If this is my end,
I am not lonely. I am not afraid. I am still yours.”