I am his Highness’ dog at Kew;
Pray tell me, sir, whose dog are you?
The epigrammatic poem above was written by Alexander Pope (1688-1744). Pope wrote many famous epigrams, “To Err is human, to forgive divine,” and, “A little learning is a dangerous thing; drink deep , or taste not the Pierian spring;” both come from his verse book, An Essay on Criticism, delineating his principles of poetic critique. He is the third most quoted of the English poets, just behind Shakespeare and Tennyson.
After reading Pope’s Kew poem, it occurred to me that my pet Pekinese was similar to the ‘dog at Kew’ and needed a poem that plausibly spoke from her lofty canine point of view. Our Pekinese daily plants herself on the picture window sill and surveys her realm, including the people within, until the need for rest overcomes her and she leaves her duties to others, as royals are want to do. The selective breeding of Pekinese originated some 2000 years ago in the imperial courts of Beijing. Their descendants, small but sturdy, retain royal qualities. They are aloof, loyal, fiercely independent, and seem to meditate or study people with a knowing air. I attempted to capture that attitude in my short poem.
I also imaged her asking a slightly different question then in Pope’s poem. All art is creative borrowing, just as the moon borrows and, with the help of the ever changing atmosphere, turns the sun’s light into many colors. In a similar way, whether we are conscious of it or not, we borrow from other works of art. Thus Cocoa’s question is addressed differently, and opens up a number of possible answers. What answer would you give?
By the window I lie,
a regal hound with views.
Tell me knave,
whose loyal dog are you?