Dog Songs: Poems

Dog Songs is a collection of new and favorite poems by renowned poet Mary Oliver. The 35 poems, plus one longer prose poem/essay that caps off this slender volume, revolve around dogs and all they mean personally to Oliver, touching as well upon more universal themes of the human-canine bond and how the companionship of dogs anchors people to the natural world.

John Burgoyne's pen-and-ink drawings mirror the unadorned language that makes Oliver's poetry both intriguing and accessible. Each poem contains poignant observations about the dogs that have enriched Oliver's life and work. Often in just a few, carefully chosen phrases, simple dog pleasures such as daily walks, frolicking in the grass, smelling flowers, chasing mice, darting ahead and going off leash depict a dog's ability to live joyfully in the moment. These vivid metaphors will inspire readers to seek a similarly vibrant richness of life.

Oliver's poems about her beloved dog Percy--named after the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley--are succinct and clever. Percy's evolution is creatively explored with insight, compassion and humor as he mischievously eats books, has a rendezvous before he's neutered and even keeps the author company while she does her income taxes. "I am trying to live... the examined life," she writes. "But there are days I wish there was less in my head to examine." Dogs, in their carefree, unconditional friendship and adoration, offer Oliver--and readers--a hopeful respite. --Kathleen Gerard, blogger at Reading Between the Lines

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