it gets run over by a van.
you find it at the side of the road
and bury it.
you feel bad about it.
you feel bad personally,
but you feel bad for your daughter
because it was her pet,
and she loved it so.
she used to croon to it
and let it sleep in her bed.
you write a poem about it.
you call it a poem for your daughter,
about the dog getting run over by a van
and how you looked after it,
took it out into the woods
and buried it deep, deep,
and that poem turns out so good
you’re almost glad the little dog
was run over, or else you’d never
have written that good poem.
then you sit down to write
a poem about writing a poem
about the death of that dog,
but while you’re writing you
hear a woman scream
your name, your first name,
both syllables,
and your heart stops.
after a minute, you continue writing.
she screams again.
you wonder how long this can go on.

Analysis, meaning and summary of the poem by

32 Comments

  1. sleepy says:

    “The beauty of this poem is in the way it reaches toward illuminating the
    truth that art, or creativity, mitigates the suffering…”
    C’mon. you’re thinking too much. trying to be some intellect. “mitigates the suffering..” c’mon.

    its just a good, well written poem.

    dont think too hard MeMe.

  2. ernie says:

    this poem is sick i like it i keep reading it over and over

  3. MeMe says:

    This is an amazing poem. I wonder about those of you who just write, “This is terrible” or some such. Why bother to comment if you’re not going to explain your ideas, your thoughts, your analysis? I can’t even tell if some of you have put thought into it. Maybe you just have a good/terrible button on your keyboard…
    The beauty of this poem is in the way it reaches toward illuminating the truth that art, or creativity, mitigates the suffering of being human. The author loves his daughter and loved the dog. Death is ultimately inescapable. The only thing that makes the painful situation of life, love and death bearable is writing a poem about it. Then the poem turns out to be so good that it does more than take the edge off the suffering; it brings the writer happiness! A kind of happiness-despite-death. What more could any of us ask for? It’s all we’ve got as mortals in this world.
    A woman is yelling at him. She’s trying to break into what he’s built as a way of happiness. She’s his wife, most likely. She isn’t the source of his happiness, so the marriage might be on the rocks. He’s holding on. “How long can this go on?”

    I hope reading poems brings you all happiness. I’d love to read thoughtful comments.

  4. katey says:

    this is a really good poem LOL

  5. Adrianna says:

    this is gay!

  6. Lindsay Varcoe says:

    I am astounded that so many visitors to this site fail to comprehend the genious of Raymond Carver. His dirty little secret – that he extracts some artistic joy from the death of his daughter’s dog – and his confessional regarding same, are brilliant honesty in its most raw form. The literal meaning and the poet’s dilemna are as one – the dog is dead and Carver is genuinely sorry for his daughter, but at the same time he (the poet Carver) is secretly pleased to have something to stoke his creative fires. The separation between artist and person – creator and person – has never been more stark. Read it – read everything Carver wrote and savour every moment.

    LJV

  7. Zach says:

    This poem is very depressing!!!

  8. Cindy says:

    This is the first Carver poem I read, and then I was hooked. He is by far my favorite poet of all time. Other favorites include “Transformation” and “The Current,” but I’ve grown attached to a number of his pieces and like his poetry more than his prose. Thanks for the site.

  9. george says:

    this is a terrible terrible poem.

  10. Cameron says:

    You’re all inane. This poem is about how he needs to have bad things happen so he can continue to write good poetry. It gets to the point where he is happy that bad things are happening, because good poetry comes out of it. Finally, he hears some sort of screaming, and he does nothing in the hopes that it will be bad enough to write good poetry.

  11. Rebecca says:

    I personally love poetry and I thought this was funny yet ellagent. It was a great poem!!

  12. Ezergailis, Andrew says:

    I am sending a competing death of dog poem. Author is my late wife Inta. ae

    When the dog dies
    He lies on the table, eyes closed,
    the trembling quiet now.
    Pink liquid in the needle,
    a short yelp, and it’s over.
    They’re ready, the vet says,
    when they go so fast.

    We cry, I take his collar off.
    At night, I dream of him
    running circles, touch
    the thick rough fur
    by his neck and feel the tag gone-
    no one to return him now.

    Sixteen years of walks-
    parks, wildflower reserve,
    Plantations, Rim Trail, Lick Brook,
    Abbot’s Loop, and many nameless paths,
    on foot or skis, he struggling through the snow.
    Lately, for his sake, more on flat trails.

    We force ourselves to walk now,
    explain to other regulars,
    pet their dogs, and go on,
    the warm brown shadow still
    between us, the ghost leash
    loosening, as he falls behind.

  13. Srella Wilson says:

    So much for comfort when you need it!

  14. Ron says:

    Raymond is, in my opinion, one of the greatest poets of the 20th century. He captures his audience, tells his story in a raw manner, yet each poem he wrote has it’s own soul. Your dog dies is no exception. To bad most of the poster of comments so far just don’t get it! I’d suggest they grab one or two of his books and spend a little time learning his style and getting to know him.

  15. Sergio says:

    is now good poetry without sorrow.That’s the poet’s curse.

  16. Kamal says:

    You have to step back…this poem is not about us. There is no lesson here. Its about the madness of a poet. A dog dies, and the narrator does the “normal” thing. Feels sad, buries it, etc…But he is a poet and writes about it. And then he feels bad b/c he realizes that he is almost glad it happened, b/c it gives him something to write about and so and so on into this mental whirlpool of abstraction from reality until all that really matters are the words on the page. He hears his wife (maybe his daughter) scream his name, “Ray-mond” to reach him. But he is lost — the mad writer.

  17. Sarah Vakos says:

    I agree with Melissa Allen. I mean who would want to write about death in general, much less your daughters dog?
    Raymond Carter has mental problems.

  18. melissa Allen says:

    this was the most stupid poem i have ever read!! why would you be happy about the dog getting run over?!?!?
    And who ever wrote this poem is a syco.

  19. Julia says:

    wow that’s amazing! At first a bit funny but finally….you know what I mean

  20. sarah says:

    wow that is amazing!! i thought it was weird at first because who would want to write about a dead dog???

  21. REL says:

    OMG! That was the funniest thing I’ve ever read!!!!! Who doesn’t like doggie-suicide? I mean, how original is that? I want my dog to run in front of a mac truck so I can write about it!!! Woo!

  22. wow says:

    You are all amazingly dense…

  23. Holly says:

    I had a dog like that named Tiger. The guy saw him and went faster to hit him. It made me so so mad. My brothers and I still love him as much as we did when he was alive. I miss you and Love you a lot TIGER!

  24. hannah says:

    i dont understand this peom too good… why would he write one peom on top of another?? and also who and why is there screamin? did the daughter get killed or something?.. to damn confusing for my little brain

  25. Mary Johnson says:

    I do not feel this poem is referring to a dog at all. The dog is simply a metaphor for Carver’s failing marriage. Read it again-the clues are seen everywhere (especially in the part about his daughter).

  26. Sera says:

    Who was screaming?

  27. Lexi says:

    I feel for the girl who’s dog died, if it’s true. Raymond Carver is DEAD (read the first page of the site) so no, I don’t think he cares to capitalize his letters anymore. This poem is about the undercurrent of his life story, a struggling writer, he finds it morbid that it takes strong negative feelings to make his mind work, and the screaming woman is no doubt someone in his life who is pissed that he is writing a poem instead of consoling his daughter, and when he asks “how long can this go on?” he is wondering how long he can continue living in this closed-down non-emotional state where he is emotionally cut off from friends and family, where no one understands, and in doing so rains anger and disbelief on him.

  28. Kerina says:

    hm… somewhat morbid. is this an ode? why would he write a poem on a poem for his daughter about his dead dog? why doesnt he just post the poem for his daughter? and does he have a shift button with which to capitolize words?

  29. letra says:

    this is just like what happen to my poor dog his name was rocky we loved him with all of our heart, me and my brother we still got love for him in our hearts.

  30. Emily says:

    i know everyone gets many different meanings from poems butthe other two comments here have nothing to do with this poem. it has a depper meaning then a dead dog, the death of the dog inspires himt o write about it then that inspires him to write of the good poem he wrote yet there are still inturuptions to him and his writing.

  31. Jenifer says:

    my dog died on october 27,2004 i dont know what to do what do i do and how can i stop crying?

  32. Tina says:

    I thought ur poem was great a dog getting run over by a van. Cool shit man.

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