‘The House-Dog’s Grave’, by Robinson Jeffers


Robinson Jeffers: The House-Dog’s Grave

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.


My thanks to Julie Whitmore, who sent me this beautiful poem, so eloquent of many thoughts crowding my head at this time.

We didn’t bury Jack ‘less than six feet’ from our door, though he lies in the paddock where he ran joyfully for eleven of his fourteen years, and his view is of Ty Isaf and all its comings and goings.


9 thoughts on “‘The House-Dog’s Grave’, by Robinson Jeffers

    • Yes, it was intense as I read the poem. So, very true.To have intense passion and tears. It makes me feel such sadness, but alive.

  1. Dear Clive, How I love Robinson Jeffers. We continue to think of you. I have been looking at those wonderful photos of Jack and the Mari Lwyd today. Here’s a poem written as our 19 year old chocolate lab was dying a decade ago. It appears in my book The Broken Flower:


    for Lord Dewitt Dogmeat Bodhisattva

    He sleeps the rugged deep sleep

    that knows sleep as a rest and letting go

    after the rock escarpment

    climax of a climb –

    the flightless sound birds make when

    dirt bathes their parasitic skins –

    the sleep that stills (a log they say)

    yet gathers strength in

    each extremity to twitch

    with dreams from air. The

    sleep that mothers wish for

    and fear in night’s illness.

    It comes so easily to him,

    a scalawag, a mentor, and

    a beast. It rises rhythmically

    near his loins. And when through soft

    and furry breath

    sufficiently care dissipates,

    the Lord Dog rises,

    bows nobly to the sun, his charioteer,

    and goes, off to the next mountain,

    or gully, or pond just as humans do,

    as around each turn

    they find their unexpected life.

  2. Oh dear, that’s started me off… but even as I blow my nose and dry my eyes I begin to smile with the memories and the knowledge inside the truth of the poem, love shared and given freely stays around us forever. Well, I think it does.
    Yours lovingly
    B xxx xxx xxx

  3. A lovely poem which, as with Ann, brought forth a flood of tears as I recall two of my tribe buried at my old farm in Ontario. The paddock sounds a rightful place for Jack, the guardian of Ty Isaf.

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