Burning

By Galway Kinnell 1927–2014 Galway Kinnell
He lives, who last night flopped from a log   
Into the creek, and all night by an ankle   
Lay pinned to the flood, dead as a nail   
But for the skin of the teeth of his dog.

I brought him boiled eggs and broth.   
He coughed and waved his spoon
And sat up saying he would dine alone,   
Being fatigue itself after that bath.

I sat without in the sun with the dog.   
Wearing a stocking on the ailing foot,   
In monster crutches, he hobbled out,   
And addressed the dog in bitter rage.

He told the yellow hound, his rescuer,   
Its heart was bad, and it ought
Not wander by the creek at night;
If all his dogs got drowned he would be poor.

He stroked its head and disappeared in the shed   
And came out with a stone mallet in his hands   
And lifted that rocky weight of many pounds   
And let it lapse on top of the dog's head.

I carted off the carcass, dug it deep.
Then he came too with what a thing to lug,   
Or pour on a dog’s grave, his thundermug,   
And poured it out and went indoors to sleep.

I saw him sleepless in the pane of glass   
Looking wild-eyed at sunset, then the glare   
Blinded the glass—only a red square   
Burning a house burning in the wilderness.

Galway Kinnell, “Burning” from Flower Herding on Mount Monadnock. Copyright © 1964 by Galway Kinnell. Reprinted with the permission of Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved, www.houghtonmifflinbooks.com.

Source: Flower Herding on Mount Monadnock (1964)

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Poet Galway Kinnell 1927–2014

POET’S REGION U.S., New England

Subjects Health & Illness, Pets, Death, Living, Relationships

Occasions Get Well & Recovery

 Galway  Kinnell

Biography

Galway Kinnell was an award-winning poet best known for poetry that connects the experiences of daily life to much larger poetic, spiritual, and cultural forces. Often focusing on the claims of nature and society on the individual, Kinnell’s poems explore psychological states in precise and sonorous free verse. Critic Morris Dickstein called Kinnell “one of the true master poets of his generation.” Dickstein added, “there are . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Health & Illness, Pets, Death, Living, Relationships

POET’S REGION U.S., New England

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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