This is the hardest part:
When I came back to life
I was a good family dog
and not too friendly to strangers.
I got a thirty-five dollar raise
in salary, and through the pea-soup fogs
I drove the General, and introduced him
at rallies. I had a totalitarian approach
and was a massive boost to his popularity.
I did my best to reduce the number of people.
The local bourgeoisie did not exist.
One of them was a mystic
and walked right over me
as if I were a bed of hot coals.
This is par for the course-
I will be employing sundry golf metaphors
henceforth, because a dog, best friend
and chief advisor to the General, should.
While dining with the General I said,
“Let’s play the back nine in a sacred rage.
Let’s tee-off over the foredoomed community
and putt ourselves thunderously, touching bottom.”
He drank it all in, rugged and dusky.
I think I know what he was thinking.
He held his automatic to my little head
and recited a poem about my many weaknesses,
for which I loved him so.

Analysis, meaning and summary of James Tate's poem Loyalty


  1. Nancy M says:

    The poem is very good it tells a story of human life but puts sit through a dogs eyes. it is very creative and most modern day poets are too obsessed with getting their message across they arnt that creative but he really got his message across and it was truly beautiful. This poem shows beauty in its deepest form, when you can show beauty trough the utter most sadness of human life it can ust take ones breath away.

  2. annie says:

    vanilla ice cream is a brilliant analogy. james tate absolutely fascinates me…

  3. steve says:

    This poem like all of Tates poetry is a masterpiece of words.. he is a verbal genius who dresses up an often simple story in the most unusual and interesting disguise..his genius is no THAT , but HOW he uses words and language skills like metaphor and simile to draw you in… his poems break all the bonds of structured communication and yet somehow manage to follow very closely the rules..just when you wonder where in the world,( or more likely OUT of it) he is going , he suddenly brings you back to the story and it all becomes clear…I see his poems as vanilla ice cream..floating, smothered and drowned in the most unexpected toppings you have ever seen…If you take the time to read them, and sometimes it takes several attempts, you will see the simple event or occasion , as clear as a scoop of vanilla ice cram , sitting right in the middle, right where he placed it…Tate does what we all should do.. he looks at everyday life observes it from different angles, then choosses the most unlikely , and interesting one and writes a poem..

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