Tunes for a Monday Morning: Ballad Lands

Happy Birthday Tilly!

Reading with Tilly  2009

It's hard to believe that the little scrap of fur we brought home from a farm in Tiverton is six years old today, and utterly impossible to imagine our household without her intelligent, joyous, and goofy presence.

In honor of the occasion, here are links to some of my favorite poems about dogs...and I'd love to know yours.

Tilly at 10 weeks old"What the Dog Perhaps Hears" by Lisel Mueller

"Over and Over Tune" by Ionna Carlson

"Dog Music" by Paul Zimmer

"Dog Dreaming" by W.S. Merwin

"Dharma" by Billy Collins

"A Dog on His Master" by Billy Collins

"Walking the Dog" by Harold Nemerov

"The Dogs at Live Oak Beach, Santa Cruz" by Alice Ostriker

"If Feeling Isn't In It" by John Brehm

"Mongrel Heart" by David Baker

...and selections from Mary Oliver's "Dog Songs."

Howard and Tilly  2009

Howard and Tilly 2015


Have the happiest of birthdays, Tilly. It's been such a pleasure watching you grow up on this blog.

As for my favorite dog poems, they include Mary Oliver's Dog Songs collection, and the poems Jane Yolen has written to Tilly here on Myth & Moor!

Happy Birthday, Tilly! May it be filled with love, adventure and chew toys! Oh, and faerie, of course.


Mongrel Heart is so beautiful. Thanks. Xxe.

Happy birthday, sweet Tilly! Our boy Spencer had a birthday this week too.

Thanks for the poems...I plan to share them with Angus today. And Happy Day to Miss Tiily once again from us both!

Sooooo! It's your birthday Devil Dog. Well, happy pooh, puke and pendulous protuberances to you!!!!

From: The-Cats-At-The-Top-Of-Hill

P.S. We have defecated in your Delphiniums

A Bone for the Birthday Dog

I have no bone to pick with you, dog,
you bring joy and health.

I am not bone-tired of your pictures,
they start my day with a smile.

I am not boning up on dog anatomy,
just counting your tail wags on the internet.'

You tickle my humurus bone,
which means my tear ducts are bone dry.

So here's a virtual bone
for you, from your friend and bone.. .

er. . . boon companion on a couple
of road trips around Chagford.

Bone appetit.

xxxNana Jane

Happy Birthday Tilly. Have a wonderful day and a happy year to come.

Yes! Happy Birthday you dear little doggie! Hope your Mommy gives you yummy treats and a nice shoulder rub today!

Happy Birthday to an excellent wonderful dog!!!! You brighten my day every time I see your sweet face Tilly, and thank you for leading us through myths and stories and faery hills and magic lands here on this blog. You are the best Animal Guide of all.

My favorite dog poem: 'Flush or Faunus' by Elizabeth Barrett Browning about her little spaniel Flush.

And I also love Jane's Tilly poems! And the on-going battle between Tilly and the Cats-of-the-hill.

Happy Birthday, lovely Tilly!
Every time I see her, my heart sinks, for she reminds me so much of our dearest,unforgettable dog Mixy...
I wish you many more happy years together!

Birthday greetings from across the sea! May your day be bright and your bones be many! I send you a kiss on the top of your head, & Pepper sends a jaunty wag of her tail!

I love the dog poems - especially Lisel Mueller - and add: "I started Early - Took my Dog' by Emily Dickinson,

My absolute favorite poem about dogs is Biscuit by Jane Kenyon. So simple and so touching. I found it online here:

One more, by Mark Strand, called Great Dog Poem No. 2. It's an odd one but I've always loved it:

I wish Tilly and her family a beautiful day, in thanks for this beautiful blog.


Two more dog poems...


That dog with daisies for eyes
who flashes forth
flame of his very self at every bark
is the Dog of Art.
Worked in wool, his blind eyes
look inward to caverns and jewels
which they see perfectly,
and his voice
measures forth the treasure
in music sharp and loud,
sharp and bright,
bright flaming barks,
and growling smoky soft, the Dog
of Art turns to the world
the quietness of his eyes.

- Denise Levertov


Into the gravity of my life,
the serious ceremonies
of polish and paper
and pen, has come

this manic animal
whose innocent disruptions
make nonsense
of my old simplicities-

as if I needed him
to prove again that after
all the careful planning,
anything can happen.

- Linda Pastan

Happiest of happy birthdays, Tilly! Wishing you a wonderful and joyful year ahead. May the wind be warm against your fur and the bones always juicy.

Happy Birthday Tilly, looking forward to your next tale.
Wishing you long walks, tasty treats, strong belly rubs and wondrous encounters.
One of my favorite dog poems: "God got a dog" by Cynthia Rylant.

Right, now I've got those bloody cats out of my computer I'd just like to wish you a very happy birthday, Tilly! May there always be wonderfully whiffy smells to fill your nose; may there always be creatures to chase (though not to catch) and may there also always be big bottomless bowls of squelchy dog grub to slurp up and slobber over.

Happy Birthday Tilly, I’ve delighted in being an online observer of your wood walks over the years. You are on my screensaver at the moment to remind me of joy, beauty, light and the deep pleasure, comfort and healing to be found in nature and art. xx

Too adorable as a pup, elegant and clever growing up
wise and kind at six, you flowed into the family cup!
Lucky you and lucky them...Happy Birthday once again.

For Tilly

Every where I go outside I see
You, Tilly, The sweet black dog
In the old time book store,
the kind, patient seeing helper
those wise eyes, her blind man
trusting and kind right back too,

Little silky black ears and big eyes
scampering down the sidewalk,
in leashes, dog in the window,
not for sale, just looking out
at her or his domain; All
wagging tails and that gentle
way of showing kindness.

Never mind the real Tilly
is around the spinning earth
up in morning that is my
midnight. Good dog, special
gifted and beloved by people
she will never see. Oh Tilly,
life is better because of you.

I haven't commented here in a long while due to the endless demands of fatherhood and teaching, although I continue to be a devoted Myth & Moor reader, but I had to come say Happy Birthday to Tilly! I remember when she first appeared on this blog as a puppy; could that really be six years ago...? My wife, son, and I send her wishes for many more years of walks, bones, and companionship.

My entry for the Dog Poem list is a mythic poem, 'Homecoming,' by Galician poet Manuel Rivas:

In Ithaca everyone was dead.
They say it was me, Argos the dog, who woke first:
— Dead, dead, dead!
A smell stronger than dung,
the smell of a living man,
made me vomit celestial remains,
That man who reeked of legend,
a twitching skeleton,
a bad-tempered ghost,
ripped open the scar with his nails
and smeared the mired shadows with words.
There were our names. All of them.
And the infallible memory of the trees
in Laertes' orchard.
Half a hundred rows of vines,
thirteen pear trees,
ten apple trees,
forty fig trees.
The blind old man saw, in the end, his son, thanks to the earth’s algebra.
After, Odysseus
came and woke us one by one
and our tears, since then,
are the rope that binds the light
with a violent joy.


From The Disappearance of Snow, by Manuel Rivas, translated by Lorna Shaughnessy, Shearsman Books, c 2012

I'm not sure how to contact you directly, but I have a question.

Every time I come to your blog now, someone starts reading a poem (John O'Donohue?). I can't see how to turn the audio off. Where is the link so that I can do that.

Thank you. You can email me at if you'd rather.

Happy Birthday for Saturday Tilly, love Circe, Caly and their human, in outback South Australia.

And they did indeed. How did you know, Stuart?

Tilly loves her virtual bone, and so do I! Thank you, thank you, dear.

I love this, Phyllis! Tilly and I both thank you so very much.

Thank you, everyone, for the birthday greeting, duly passed on to the Hound (who thumps her tail as I read them out loud); and also for your terrific additions to the "poems about dogs" list. (I've made note of them all.) It's not every dog who gets birthday poems and greetings from all over the world!

Here's one more for the dog poem list:

"The Promise" by Jane Hirshfield, a beautiful invocation of dog-as-metaphor.

"Whatever direction the fates of my life might travel, I trusted," she writes; and that's what I aim for.

A few people have reported this problem with the "Soundcloud" audio tracks embedded in the Thursday, July 21st post. If your browser is, for reasons unknown to me, automatically turning the track on as it loads, all you can do is turn it off manually (by clicking the pause button on the tracks in the post).

It doesn't happen on my browser, and there's nothing in the embedding code causing it, so I can't fix the problem for you -- but now that the post is no longer on the opening page of Myth & Moor, it shouldn't be quite so annoying.

A belated Happy Birthday to you, Tilly. Thank you for all you do to keep your mistress happy, healthy, and whole. Here's a poem for your birthday dog poem list, though you of course, are a Good Dog, not a Bad one.

by Wyatt Prunty

He was a bad dog, and he did not care.
When nature called he stood and lifted there.
He chewed socks, rugs, and shoes, the rungs of chairs.
Put on a leash, he locked his legs. He would not budge.
Asleep, he barked and chased what was not there.
Awake, he barked and chased what was not there.
When danger knocked he shrugged.

I see him still that way, facing the door,
Floppy and kind, wet nose against the glass
Or scratching over ears where going bald,
Then sniffing round to find just where he lifted earlier;
The which he did just once more when at last
Nature called and he followed.

- from Couldn’t Prove Had to Promise. © Johns Hopkins University Press, 2015,

It's lovely, isn't it? The last lines slay me every time I read it.

Sending much love from misty Dartmoor this morning to you and Fergus on the other side of the world.

Happy Birthday, Spencer!

- Terri


- Tilly

I hope Angus approves!

I'm afraid I have become psychically linked to them. Please help me, it's all I can do not to defecate in my own delphiniums!!!

A belated Happy Birthday, dear, wonderful, magical Tilly!

My favorite dog poem not yet mentioned (I don't think)is another Billy Collins:

The famous barking dog solo. I love it!

Candace and Christopher: Thank you for adding these fabulous poems to the list.

Happy Belated Birthday, Tilly! Here is one of my favorite dog poems for you to share with your humans.

The Dog
by Susan Schaeffer

There is everything in his eyes.
Packs of wolves fleeing across the frozen waves,
Black shapes into the blacker woods
And he is there.
Once he was one of them.

Such muscles in his legs,
Such thighs,
Such hinged jaws. A giant of a dog
Who barks at horses, sheep,
Mistaking them for the wolf he still is.

Today he lies on the rug,
Tail bandaged, a giant, a walking house
Brought down by fleas.
And yet there are meadows in his eyes,
Steep, sharp cliffs toward which the sheep
Drift like suicidal clouds,
And as he dreams,
His muscles twitch,
In nightmares it is always the same,
He sees the danger, cannot raise his head,
Cannot bark nor move.

When he opens his eyes,
He takes it all in, what has become of him,
His people, whom he loves,
Moving through such familiar rooms,
The small cat who dances by,
These things are his to keep.

Is he diminished?
He thinks not.
He says, I have known love,
They touch my fur with love.
I have not sold my soul
For a safe haven, a handful of bones.

And yet, in dreams,
He is running free
And his people stream behind him
Like flags, like wind-tossed rags
Who will catch up with him
When he gets where he is going,
When he once more
Knows what he has always known.

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