13 September 2007

And one for dog people

(via the same friend, Kat)

A Dog Has Died

My dog has died.
I buried him in the garden
next to a rusted old machine.

Some day I'll join him right there,
but now he's gone with his shaggy coat,
his bad manners and his cold nose,
and I, the materialist, who never believed
in any promised heaven in the sky
for any human being,
I believe in a heaven I'll never enter.
Yes, I believe in a heaven for all dogdom
where my dog waits for my arrival
waving his fan-like tail in friendship.

Ai, I'll not speak of sadness here on earth,
of having lost a companion
who was never servile.
His friendship for me, like that of a porcupine
withholding its authority,
was the friendship of a star, aloof,
with no more intimacy than was called for,
with no exaggerations:
he never climbed all over my clothes
filling me full of his hair or his mange,
he never rubbed up against my knee
like other dogs obsessed with sex.

No, my dog used to gaze at me,
paying me the attention I need,
the attention required
to make a vain person like me understand
that, being a dog, he was wasting time,
but, with those eyes so much purer than mine,
he'd keep on gazing at me
with a look that reserved for me alone
all his sweet and shaggy life,
always near me, never troubling me,
and asking nothing.

Ai, how many times have I envied his tail
as we walked together on the shores of the sea
in the lonely winter of Isla Negra
where the wintering birds filled the sky
and my hairy dog was jumping about
full of the voltage of the sea's movement:
my wandering dog, sniffing away
with his golden tail held high,
face to face with the ocean's spray.

Joyful, joyful, joyful,
as only dogs know how to be happy
with only the autonomy
of their shameless spirit.

There are no good-byes for my dog who has died,
and we don't now and never did lie to each other.

So now he's gone and I buried him,
and that's all there is to it.

By Pablo Neruda
Translated, from the Spanish, by Alfred Yankauer


seppaku said...

Beautiful poem!

Sometimes I look at my dogs' smiling faces and think that I'm crazy to fall so deeply in love with such short-lived souls. Ahh, but what true sweet souls they are.

But still, that day when their faces will be grizzled and their eyes hazy and their hips weak looms large. You know its coming, but you can't help but give them your whole heart anyways.

Those slobbery, charming little bastards!

Cara deBeer said...

Pablo Neruda fucking rocks. Wish I read Spanish fluently.

But yes - pets' short little life spans are so full of LOVE, every damn minute, and there is so much they teach me - every fucking day - about living from minute to minute instead of spending most of my time looking forward, that it's worth the inevitable heartbreak (not to mention the vet bills.)