Two dogs push a herd of sheep;
Though one now curls, a shaggy heap;
The other barks to wake his sleep
While sunset turns the canyon red.
An Indian blanket is the sky
As ghostly nomads settle by;
A single bark becomes a cry:
Maroon and purple shadows spread.
A playful bite, O friend arise!
And chase with me ‘neath starry skies!
Yet still he stands, the other lies;
The afterglow of day has fled.
A velvet darkness brings on sleep
Beside his friend, his pledge to keep;
He dreams of pushing woolly sheep,
Forgetting that his friend is dead.
Perceptive criticism is offered by Larry Hall, poet and former newspaper columnist. Says Larry:
“Dogs, and most other animals, have a sixth sense about death and know it when they smell it. I think the poem could be improved by altering the last line, perhaps replacing “Not knowing” with something like “Forgetting”….or words which suggests that the living dog was reliving happier times in his dreams.”
Another reader explains that elephants know death well, but will continue for a time, by prodding and poking, for reasons only elephants know for sure.
So, with regard to the poem: we have either a very dumb dog or a very dumb poet…and since we all love dogs…
The last line is changed. What do you think?
Do dogs know?