by 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 of the Unamerican Committee 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 gramophone of puzzling existence with its wondrous hollow horn which always seems just about to spout forth some Victorious answer to everything

Lawrence Ferlinghetti, ‘Dog’ from ‘A Coney Island of the Mind: Poems’.
©1958 Lawrence Ferlinghetti.

I first heard ‘Dog’ set to music and performed by Bob Dorough introduced by Bob Dylan, on his ‘Theme Time Radio’ program. The track appears on the album ‘Jazz Canto’

The ‘Theme Time Radio’ programs were freely available on the web but it seems no more. They can be bought on CD or downloaded in MP3 form from Amazon or the like. Currently the programs are or perhaps were broadcast daily on DylanRadio at Noon & 10pm Atlantic Daylight Time, which is 4pm and 2am in summertime UK, I wrote this in the summertime.

Yes! I managed to find a Basset Hound tie up. The above is an excerpt from a page on the website of dylanradio, picturing it seems the aftermath of a party celebrating Dylan’s 70th birthday on the 23rd May 2011, ‘an internet radio station featuring music, live concerts, interviews, covers and radio programs by, or inspired by, singer/songwriter Bob Dylan’.

The clip below is from ‘Beat Thing’ - a performance/reading by Ann and Samuel Charters, with the assistance of Björn Lundqvist on the bass. Here we have Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s poem, ‘Dog’ read with a little explanation of the background to Ferlinghetti and the poem. At ‘English Bookshop’, Stockholm, Gamla Stan (Old Town), 8th September 2011. For more information on Ferlinghetti try The Poetry Foundation.

Five poems by Lawrence Ferlinghetti

  1. Constantly Risking Absurdity

  2. Dog

  3. Away Above a Harborful . . .

  4. London Crossfigured

  5. Monet's Lilies Shuddering

hound features ☞

'Pity the Nation' another Ferlinghetti poem ☞