Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Analysis- Dog


Alicia Hillier
The dog trots freely in the street
and sees reality
and the things he sees
are bigger than himself
and the things he sees
are his reality
Drunks in doorways
Moons on trees
The dog trots freely thru the street
and the things he sees
are smaller than himself
Fish on newsprint
Ants in holes
Chickens in Chinatown windows
their heads a block away
The dog trots freely in the street
and the things he smells
smell something like himself
The dog trots freely in the street
past puddles and babies
cats and cigars
poolrooms and policemen
He doesn’t hate cops
He merely has no use for them
and he goes past them
and past the dead cows hung up whole
in front of the San Francisco Meat Market
He would rather eat a tender cow
than a tough policeman
though either might do
And he goes past the Romeo Ravioli Factory
and past Coit’s Tower
and past Congressman Doyle
He’s afraid of Coit’s Tower
but he’s not afraid of Congressman Doyle
although what he hears is very discouraging
very depressing
very absurd
to a sad young dog like himself
to a serious dog like himself
But he has his own free world to live in
His own fleas to eat
He will not be muzzled
Congressman Doyle is just another
fire hydrant
to him
The dog trots freely in the street
and has his own dog’s life to live
and to think about
and to reflect upon
touching and tasting and testing everything
investigating everything
without benefit of perjury
a real realist
with a real tale to tell
and a real tail to tell it with
a real live
                         democratic dog
engaged in real
                      free enterprise
with something to say
                             about ontology
something to say
                        about reality
                                        and how to see it
                                                               and how to hear it
with his head cocked sideways
                                       at streetcorners
as if he is just about to have
                                       his picture taken
                                                             for Victor Records
                                  listening for
                                                   His Master’s Voice
                      and looking
                                       like a living questionmark
                                                                 into the
                                                              great gramaphone
                                                           of puzzling existence
                 with its wondrous hollow horn
                         which always seems
                     just about to spout forth
                                                      some Victorious answer
                                                              to everything

“Dog” written by Lawrence Ferlinghetti is strongly believed to be based on the author himself and his best friend Homer. Although it is said to “never judge a book by its cover”, and this piece of literature is a prime example since it contains a more in depth meaning in terms of societal and political beliefs.

At the very beginning of the poem Lawrence Ferlinghetti states “The dog trots freely in the street and sees reality”. This quote refers to the innocence and freedom that the dog has, and how it may observe and view the world from a different perspective than humans.  Also notice the contrast methods Ferlinghetti uses while talking about what the dog sees in the streets in comparison with what the human sees. For example someone walking on the street might see “Drunks in doorways”, meanwhile the dog would see “Fish on Newsprint” or “Ants in holes”.

A dog has a totally different perspective on the world than we do, and perhaps observes more than we do. This is illustrated through the slight tone change following the discussion on policemen; a dog doesn’t necessarily dislike them but simply has no use for them. It is very evident later on in the poem that the dog is walking in San Francisco due to the diction used. Also, the repetition of the same letter in a sentence is very eye catching in this literature for example "cats and cigars"and "poolrooms and policemen".  

When Congressman Doyle is mentioned the diction sets a more serious or gloomy mood. He does so through using the words “Depressed” “Absurd”. Congressman Clyde Doyle worked for the “House Un-American Activities Committee” in the 1950’s and the purpose of this committee was essentially to investigate American citizens who were believed to be communists or support/participate in communist activities. Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s opinion is expressed through the dog as quotes that “He will not be muzzled”, yet shows the dog’s innocence using “Congressman Doyle is just another fire hydrant to him”.

Finally, “Victor Records” is and allusion to the “Victor Talking machine Company” which produced phonographs and phonographic records. Their logo featured a dog looking into a phonograph with a confused look with the words “His Master’s Voice” below.  The last few lines in the poem are all referring to the dog’s confusion, this may connect to how Lawrence Ferlinghetti views the modern world. In conclusion I believe the main theme of this poem is that everyone will always have a different perspective on a given situation.


  1. Why is dog afraid of Colt's tower?

  2. This is my all time favorite poem, for a variety of reasons. So true, so insightful.