Dog

Dog

By Lawrence Ferlinghetti b. 1919 Lawrence Ferlinghetti
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
              barking
                         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

NOTES: Correction: "a seriously dog" was corrected to "a serious dog" on 10/20/2010.

Lawrence Ferlinghetti, “Dog” from A Coney Island of the Mind: Poems. Copyright © 1958 by Lawrence Ferlinghetti. Reprinted by permission of New Directions Publishing Corporation.

Source: A Coney Island of the Mind: Poems (New Directions Publishing Corporation, 1958)

Discover this poem’s context and related poetry, articles, and media.

Poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti b. 1919

POET’S REGION U.S., Western

SCHOOL / PERIOD Beat

Subjects Relationships, Pets, Social Commentaries, History & Politics

 Lawrence  Ferlinghetti

Biography

As poet, playwright, publisher, and activist, Lawrence Ferlinghetti helped to spark the San Francisco literary renaissance of the 1950s and the subsequent “Beat” movement. Like the Beats, Ferlinghetti felt strongly that art should be accessible to all people, not just a handful of highly educated intellectuals. His career has been marked by its constant challenge of the status quo; his poetry engages readers, defies popular . . .

Continue reading this biography

Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Relationships, Pets, Social Commentaries, History & Politics

POET’S REGION U.S., Western

SCHOOL / PERIOD Beat

Report a problem with this poem

Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

This poem has learning resources.

This poem is good for children.

This poem has related video.

This poem has related audio.