One More Brevity
by Robert Frost
(never published but privately printed in 1953
and included on the 1957 Caedmon recording of Mr. Frost reading his poetry)
I opened the door so my last look
Should be taken outside a house and book.
Before I gave up seeing and slept,
I said I would see how Sirius kept
His watchdog eye on what remained
To be gone into, if not explained.
But scarcely was my door ajar,
When, past the leg I thrust for bar,
Slipped in to be my problem guest,
Not a heavenly dog made manifest,
But an earthly dog of the carriage breed,
Who, having failed of the modern speed,
Now asked asylum, and I was stirred
To be the one so dog-preferred.
He dumped himself like a bag of bones.
He sighed himself a couple of groans,
And, head to tail, then firmly curled,
Like swearing off on the traffic world.
I set him water. I set him food.
He rolled an eye with gratitude,
Or merely manners, it may have been,
But never so much as lifted chin.
His hard tail loudly smacked the floor,
As if beseeching me, “Please, no more;
I can’t explain, tonight at least.”
His brow was perceptibly trouble-creased.
So I spoke in terms of adoption, thus:
“Gusty, old boy, Dalmatian Gus,
You’re right, there’s nothing to discuss.
Don’t try to tell me what’s on your mind,
The sorrow of having been left behind
Or the sorrow of having run away.
All that can wait for the light of day.
Meanwhile feel obligation-free;
Nobody has to confide in me.”
‘Twas too one-sided a dialogue,
And I wasn’t sure I was talking Dog.
I broke off, baffled, but all the same,
In fancy, I ratified his name;
Gusty, Dalmatian Gus, that is,
And started shaping my life to his,
Finding him in his right supplies
And sharing his miles of exercise.
Next morning the minute I was about,
He was at the door to be let out.
As much as to say, “I have paid my call.
You mustn’t feel hurt if now I’m all
For getting back somewhere, or further on.”
I opened the door, and he was gone.
I was to taste in little the grief
That comes of dogs’ lives being so brief.
Only fraction of ours, at most,
He might have been the dream of a ghost,
In spite of the way his tail had smacked
My floor, so hard and matter-of-fact.
And things have been going so strangely since,
I wouldn’t be too hard to convince,
I might even claim he was Sirius.
Think of presuming to call him Gus!
The star itself, heaven’s greatest star,
Not a meteorite but an avatar,
Who had made this overnight descent
To show by deeds he didn’t resent
My having depended on him so long,
And yet done nothing about it in song.
A symbol was all he could hope to convey,
An intimation, a shot of ray,
A meaning I was supposed to seek,
And finding, not necessary speak.
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