Pablo Neruda’s Ode to the Dog

The dog is asking me a question

and I have no answer.

He dashes through the countryside and asks me


and his eyes

are two moist question marks, two wet

inquiring flames,

but I do not answer

because I haven’t got the answer.

I have nothing to say.

Dog and man:  together we roam

the open countryside.

Leaves shine as

if someone

had kissed them

one by one,

orange tress

rise up from the earth


minute planetariums

in trees that are as rounded

and green as the night,

while we roam together, dog and man

sniffling everything, jostling clover

in the countryside of Chile,

cradled by the bright fingers of September

The dog makes stops,

chases bees,

leaps over restless water,

listens to far-off


pees on a rock,

and presents me the tip of his snout

as if it were a gift:

it is the freshness of his love,

his message of love.

And he asks me

with both eyes:

why is it daytime?  why does night always fall?

why does spring bring


in its basket

for wandering dogs

but useless flowers,

flowers and more flowers?

This is how the dog

asks questions

and I do not reply.

Together we roam,

man and dog bound together again

by the bright green morning,

by the provocative empty solitude

in which we alone,


this union of dog and dew

or poet and woods,

For these two companions,

for these fellow-hunters,

there is no lurking fowl

or secret berry

but only birdsong and sweet smells,

a world moistened

by night’s distillations,

a green tunnel and then

a meadow,

a gust of orangey air,

the murmurings of roots,

life on the move,

breathing and growing,

and the ancient friendship,

the joy

of being dog or being man

fused in a single beast

that pads along on

six feet,


its dew-wet tail.


I wanted to share this genius poet’s words this morning so soon after my morning time in the park with Peaches the dog … I wanted to look again at the essence of man and dog that he speaks of.

I don’t write poetry, in fact I’m afraid of it.  It seems too difficult all this distilling of the senses, and yet Mr. Neruda makes it look easy somehow.  That’s what great artists do … they make the difficult look easy.  Reading this poem allows me to see this man and his dog and get what that unique relationship is.  Reading this poem makes me want to try to pare down and shape what I think and feel and deliver it to the world: those gems that lurk inside my mind and heart.

If anyone reading this has further thoughts on the writing of poetry, or simply writing as though you were a poet, or Neruda, or even dogs for that matter, please share them.  This could be an interesting conversation!


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