Saturday, December 19, 2009

TC: The Rebel Against Dogs


Soaring through wider zones that pricked his scars
With memory of the old revolt from dogs,
He reached a middle height, and at the stars,
Which are the brain of heaven, he looked and sank.
Around the ancient track marched, rank on rank,
The army of unalterable paws.

Siberian Dogs in the Snow: Franz Marc, 1909/1910 (National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.)


Curtis Roberts said...

This poem, which I just discovered, gets into a part of your brain immediately and keeps moving around. I think it's a combination of the insinuating rhythm, the rhymes, the unforgettable images and the melancholy, which the Marc complements and supplements. An old family joke is that I am part dog and possibly King Of The Dogs (it's true that I attract intense canine stares), so I was drawn to the title and stayed for the whole show. I think it's the "poem for the weekend", although the weekend has just begun.

TC said...


Thanks very much for noticing this poor sad orphan mutt of a poem, which is actually an escapee from this set of re-version'd classics of the English lyrick.

The poem (like the set from which it comes) is a well kept secret. It is also, I believe, my greatest work. It evokes in me all sorts of contrasting emotions. Franz Marc is certainly an accessory, nay an accomplice, to the effect, here. The victim by the way is Algernon Charles Swinburne. In his poem dogs are not mentioned. It is the diabolical revolt against God that concerns him. I suspect he sympathized in private. ("Paws" were "laws", & c.)

To be the king of the dogs would be a very great honour indeed. This is what I would consider a loving family.

A stray dog that attaches itself to you at the beginning of a long weekend can be counted upon to be loyal for the duration.

Many thanks again, and I hope you, Jane and Caroline (and all the animals, with and without paws) are having a wonderful holiday.

Curtis Roberts said...

The Mutabilitie of the Englishe Lyrick was sort of "where I came in" to BTP, so encountering another member of that cohort is great. Everything about those poems, including the humor (an aspect of mutability), naturally, involved me. I believe I’ve located the Swinburne source, so thanks for that also. Who can resist “diabolical revolt” in any context?

These, plus the John Clare volume (including the commentary by the Williamses) are providing excellent weekend company. As for Clare, there’s just so much there. Based on a previous note, I turned first to Journey out of Essex, which is indeed gripping and unforgettable. And apart from the poetry, Clare’s descriptions of politics (quoted in the introduction: “an art of money-catching”, “a game of hide-and-seek for self-interest……..the terms wig and tory are nothing more in my mind than the left and right hand of that monster”) are remarkable. I was reminded of first reading through Oscar Wilde’s letters and feeling him as a contemporary in the room beside me.

On the verge of summer, we have our first beautiful spring day here following the weird, weird weather. We also have our first cherry tomato, which is still green but is definitely hanging there. A respite from the food chain is definitely indicated, with the exception of this particular piece of fruit (eventually).

TC said...

Thanks again, Curtis. Yes, Clare's spot-on view on politics -- again the sanity of the "outside" perspective.

Congratulations on that cherry tomato.

A cherry tomato would have needed North Face kit to be born here this month.