Dog Songs: Poems
By Mary Oliver
Reviewed by Don Messerschmidt
The subtitle to this little book is ‘Thirty-five Dog Songs and One Essay’, which is a start at telling you what’s in it.
The start-off poem goes like this:
How It Begins
A puppy is a puppy is a puppy.
He’s probably in a basket with a bunch
Of other puppies.
Then he’s a little older and he’s nothing
But a bundle of longing
He doesn’t even understand it.
Then someone picks him up and says,
“I want this one.”
Award-winning writer, Mary Oliver, won a Pulitzer Prize for Poetry for her fourth book, American Primitive (1984). She has published about a dozen poetry books, and several books of prose, including a ‘Poetry Handbook’. She’s a popular poet, described as the best selling and perhaps America’s best loved living poet.
In this collection of poems, it is obvious that she’s a lover of dogs. She has poetry here for dogs named Bear, Luke, Benjamin, Bazougey, and especially Percy, named for the famous poet. Read these poems and perhaps you’ll become a lover of Mary Oliver’s poems. And, for sure, you’ll recognize some of your own dog in her words.
If You Are Holding This Book
You may not agree, you may not care, but
If you are holding this book you should know
That of all the sights I love in this world—
And there are plenty—very near the top
Of the list is this one: dogs without leashes.
The Penguin Press (New York), 2013; 127pp. ThePenguinPress.com. Facebook: penguinpress, Twitter: #penguinpress.