Pablo Neruda

(12 July 1904 – 23 September 1973 / Parral / Chile)

A Dog Has Died - Poem by Pablo Neruda

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

Comments about A Dog Has Died by Pablo Neruda

  • Gold Star - 67,857 Points Fabrizio Frosini (11/24/2015 3:08:00 AM)

    Neruda titles the poem “A Dog Has Died”, then in the first line, calls says “My dog has died.” The distance between the man and the dog seems at first almost indifferent, but then as the poem begins, the dog’s status shifts, their relationship deepens. The line after deepens it all the more: the garden is a familiar place, a comfortable place that one tends and cares for. Being buried in the garden, then, seems to go from ownership to favor. Then Neruda finishes this first stanza with the line: “next to a rusted old machine, ” drawing us back to the surface, back to being confused about the relationship between the man and his dog. [Paul Erland] (Report) Reply

    3 person liked.
    0 person did not like.
  • Gold Star - 39,563 Points Mohammed Asim Nehal (9/15/2015 12:11:00 PM)

    One of the best poem I have ever read on Dogs, , , , , , , , , , , , , Love it.. (Report) Reply

  • Veteran Poet - 1,641 Points Thomas Case (8/6/2015 6:30:00 PM)

    beautiful and sad...the dog is like a perfect human. (Report) Reply

  • Silver Star - 4,117 Points Tanya Stewart-boateng (7/26/2015 5:48:00 PM)

    I really enjoyed this write. High standard as expected from Neruda. (Report) Reply

  • Veteran Poet - 1,497 Points Dedan Onyango (7/11/2015 4:27:00 AM)

    Neruda's dog is a special one. The qualities are beyond that of a normal dog. (Report) Reply

  • Gold Star - 13,573 Points Madathil Rajendran Nair (3/29/2015 12:05:00 PM)

    Neruda's dog is special; it is perhaps the most undogly dog! One can't resist admiring this dog's aloofness and matter-of-fact, impersonal behaviour. The hidden satire in the poem is very amusing if we consider these lines:

    Yes, I believe in a heaven for all dogdom
    where my dog waits for my arrival
    waving his fan-like tail in friendship. (Report) Reply

  • Freshman - 850 Points Matthew Holloway (3/28/2015 12:28:00 PM)

    A dog always makes a home, they become part of the family fabric and their loyal devotion and love deserves poetry such as this masterpiece (Report) Reply

  • Gold Star - 5,218 Points Walterrean Salley (9/18/2014 3:39:00 AM)

    He really loved his dog. I'm sorry for such loss and the state of sadness it brought. Enjoyed reading this poem. (Report) Reply

  • Gold Star - 5,218 Points Walterrean Salley (9/18/2014 3:37:00 AM)

    He really loved his dog. I'm sorry for such loss and the state of saddness it brought. Enjoyed reading this poem. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - 170 Points Surajit Banerjee (6/19/2014 6:36:00 AM)

    The unification of souls of poet and the pet is unique. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - 45 Points Colleen Courtney (6/7/2014 4:17:00 AM)

    I love the beautiful poem of the one and only kind of specialness between pet and owner. Recalls to mimd my own Kitty girl who has passed. The closeness between us was an amazing thing to see! This poem speaks of this type of love perfectly! (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - 0 Points Brian Liu (4/28/2014 10:47:00 AM)

    Thinking of my dog. Miss him. (Report) Reply

  • Gold Star - 8,689 Points Herbert Guitang (4/27/2014 12:03:00 PM)

    It fronts the dogs death and combine his personal thouhhts (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - 184 Points Brian Jani (4/27/2014 2:20:00 AM)

    Awesome I like this poem, check mine out  (Report) Reply

  • Freshman - 826 Points Birgitta Abimbola Heikka (4/1/2014 7:53:00 PM)

    First time reading any piece by Pablo Neruda. Fell in love with the poem. Poem kept me entranced from beginning to end. No wonder he was so popular (still popular) . (Report) Reply

  • Gold Star - 19,813 Points Ramesh Rai (3/30/2014 10:36:00 PM)

    Nicely penned with soulful expression. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie R Bremner (3/25/2014 7:43:00 PM)

    Weird. I have had many dogs and all of them were quite affectionate. Perhaps the dog picked up on Neruda's lack of love, and reciprocated. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Ally Davies (1/8/2014 8:11:00 AM)

    The greatest poet of the 20th century, in any language. (Report) Reply

  • Freshman - 613 Points Alexander Opicho (12/2/2013 4:13:00 AM)

    this is Marxism of Marxism; it is a sharp way of explaining class conflict, i eguate it to the satire of V S Naipual; the house for mr biswas (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Poems 7137 (11/7/2013 7:56:00 AM)

    impeccably explained! ! I'm an admirer for this one..
    Unconditional and detached love of a dog..with no exaggerated dressing on display or any boundaries watsoever; the animal's love is a true one..! Hence, no regrets even after death...Beautiful.. (Report) Reply

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Read poems about / on: dog, believe, heaven, sea, lonely, ocean, winter, sky, star, together, happy, hair, lost, alone

Poem Submitted: Monday, January 13, 2003

Poem Edited: Monday, March 22, 2010

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