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

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A Dog Has Died

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

Submitted: Monday, January 13, 2003
Edited: Monday, March 22, 2010


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

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Comments about this poem (Canto XII from The Heights of Macchu Picchu by Pablo Neruda )

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  • Birgitta 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) .

    2 person liked.
    0 person did not like.
  • Ramesh Rai (3/30/2014 10:36:00 PM)

    Nicely penned with soulful expression.

  • 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.

  • Richard Thripp (2/13/2014 9:27:00 PM)

    It's far worse than his dog's vomit.

  • Ally Davies (1/8/2014 8:11:00 AM)

    The greatest poet of the 20th century, in any language.

  • 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

  • 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..

  • Sarah Jones (9/24/2013 10:19:00 PM)

    Unforgetable poem. Work of a true master. Neruda makes poetry so easy! Moving and poignant poem. The more you read Neruda, the more you fall in love with him. Great!

  • Denis Neumann (1/1/2013 6:45:00 PM)

    If you like poems about dogs, read Unleashed, a book of poems written by writer's dogs.

  • Aryaman Datta Chobey (11/22/2012 5:49:00 AM)

    a lovely poem right expresions makes the reader understand properly every thing but thneres lack of rhyme

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