Epitaph To A Dog Poem by George Gordon Byron

Epitaph To A Dog

Rating: 5.0

Near this spot
Are deposited the Remains
Of one
Who possessed Beauty
Without Vanity,
Strength without Insolence,
Courage without Ferocity,
And all the Virtues of Man
Without his Vices.

The Price, which would be unmeaning flattery
If inscribed over Human Ashes,
Is but a just tribute to the Memory of
'Boatswain,' a Dog
Who was born at Newfoundland,
May, 1803,
And died in Newstead Abbey,
Nov. 18, 1808.

When some proud son of man returns to earth,
Unknown by glory, but upheld by birth,
The sculptor's art exhausts the pomp of woe,
And stories urns record that rests below.
When all is done, upon the tomb is seen,
Not what he was, but what he should have been.
But the poor dog, in life the firmest friend,
The first to welcome, foremost to defend,
Whose honest heart is still his master's own,
Who labors, fights, lives, breathes for him alone,
Unhonored falls, unnoticed all his worth,
Denied in heaven the soul he held on earth -
While man, vain insect! hopes to be forgiven,
And claims himself a sole exclusive heaven.

Oh man! thou feeble tenant of an hour,
Debased by slavery, or corrupt by power -
Who knows thee well must quit thee with disgust,
Degraded mass of animated dust!
Thy love is lust, thy friendship all a cheat,
Thy smiles hypocrisy, thy words deceit!
By nature vile, ennoble but by name,
Each kindred brute might bid thee blush for shame.
Ye, who perchance behold this simple urn,
Pass on - it honors none you wish to mourn.
To mark a friend's remains these stones arise;
I never knew but one - and here he lies.

Thursday, November 27, 2014
Topic(s) of this poem: death
Kim Barney 02 June 2015

Byron may have been a stinker (as John Richter says below) , but, oh, what talent as a poet. Wonderful eulogy to his pet, that he claims was his only friend. (That could very well be true.)

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Naida Nepascua Supnet 02 June 2015

He might be..as they say..different.. but this poet is one with overflowing talent with words.

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John Richter 02 December 2014

I never knew but one (friend) , and here he lies. Byron was a stinker. Riddled with manic-depression, failed relationships for his broody temperament, rebellious enough to bring a pet bear to college because the rules forbade dogs - yet did not mention bears..... England itself was ashamed of him, refraining from allowing his likeness in stone to be erected for 145 years after his death. Yet within this cad of a man laid the emotion, the extreme passion for a dog as can be witnessed in this most incredibly loving poem. At once a devil, yet endowed as only God can bestow such a wonderful and gifted talent. How incredibly remarkable.

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Rajnish Manga 02 June 2015

A fine tribute to a dog in stark contrast to the man who is festered by so many vices throughout his life. Wonderful poem.

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Kay Staley 02 June 2015

The capitalization of random words in the sentence, and the old language gives the reader pause if they are seriously trying to interpret the meaning of the author...on the other hand, for idle readers who easily stray this is a hard poem to decipher without truly paying attention and not getting distracted by the abnormalities. Not my favorite poem and in my humble opinion it cannot be compared to She Walks in Beauty, but it is good to revisit the style of Byron.

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hypocrisy and deception

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The unique nature/character of a person makes him special. The poet might br victim of social criticism that was hard for him and it made him think that to love a dog was worthier thsn loving people with

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Sylvia Frances Chan 24 September 2023

The poet's dog died a premature death, very sad poem, so very touching. Lord Byron cared for his sick dog until he died, the poet did not think of infection, so deep was his love for his pet 5 Stars!

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Brooke Renwick 24 September 2023

WOW. What a great tribute to man's best friend!

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Godfrey Morris 02 June 2015

The dog is a very loyal friend to mankind. Great write.

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