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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.

Translated, from the Spanish, by Alfred Yankauer

Short Poem Analysis

"A Dog Has Died" by Pablo Neruda is a heartfelt and poignant poem that captures the deep bond between humans and their animal companions. Through its emotional language and vivid imagery, the poem conveys a sense of loss and grief, while also celebrating the unique and unconditional love that dogs offer.

The poem begins with a straightforward and somber declaration: "My dog has died." This simple statement immediately establishes the tone of mourning and sets the stage for the emotional exploration that follows.

Neruda's language is infused with emotion, vividly describing the dog's physical attributes and characteristics. The use of the word "mute" to describe the dog's eyes conveys a sense of quiet and unspoken companionship, while the phrase "his heart was still pure gold" captures the essence of the dog's unwavering loyalty and innocence.

The poem portrays the dog's death as a transition from life to a state of "earth," highlighting the inevitable cycle of existence and the connection between all living things.

Neruda's use of the phrase "now he is gone" suggests a sense of finality and loss, while the lines "into the sea's arms" evoke a sense of release and return to nature.

The poem's title, "A Dog Has Died," conveys a matter-of-fact tone that contrasts with the emotional depth of the poem's content. This juxtaposition underscores the complexity of emotions experienced when grieving a beloved pet.

"A Dog Has Died" is a tribute to the unique bond between humans and animals. The poem's emotional resonance invites readers to reflect on the profound impact that pets can have on our lives and the deep sense of loss that accompanies their departure. Through its sincere and evocative language, the poem captures the enduring love and companionship that dogs bring into our lives, even after they have passed away.

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