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  1. #1
    enjoe is offline Newbie
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    help understand a poem.

    Hi,

    recently I came across a poem "A Dog Has Died ".

    One stanza I have trouble to understand is as follows:
    Ai, how many times have I envied his tail
    as we walked together on the shores of the sea
    in the lonely winter of Isla Negra
    where the wintering birds filled the sky
    and my hairy dog was jumping about
    full of the voltage of the sea's movement:
    my wandering dog, sniffing away
    with his golden tail held high,
    face to face with the ocean's spray.

    One can also rewrite it as a single liner:
    ...... my hairy dog was jumping about full of the voltage of the sea's movement: my wandering dog, sniffing away with his golden tail held high, face to face with the ocean's spray.

    I certainly understand each single word. The problem is I still don't know what exactly the dog was doing and why the author should envy the dog's tail.

    What I understand:
    • my dog was jumping about
    • my dog was wandering
    • my dog was sniffing with his tail held high


    My questions:

    • what does "full of the voltage of the sea's movement" mean?
    • what does "sniffing away" mean? Was the dog sniffing while running away?
    • how is "sniffing away" connected with "face to face with the ocean's spray"?
    • why the dog's behavior made the author envy his (the dog's) tail?


    Thanks you very much.

  2. #2
    GoesStation is offline Moderator
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    Re: help understand a poem.

    Quote Originally Posted by enjoe View Post
    One stanza I'm having trouble to understanding this stanza: is as follows:
    Ai, how many times have I envied his tail
    as we walked together on the shores of the sea
    in the lonely winter of Isla Negra
    where the wintering birds filled the sky
    and my hairy dog was jumping about
    full of the voltage of the sea's movement:
    my wandering dog, sniffing away
    with his golden tail held high,
    face to face with the ocean's spray.

    <snip>


    • what does "full of the voltage of the sea's movement" mean?
    • what does "sniffing away" mean? Was the dog sniffing while running away?
    • how is "sniffing away" connected with "face to face with the ocean's spray"?
    • why does the dog's behavior make the author envy his (the dog's) tail?
    1) The poet uses voltage metaphorically to mean "power". The dog seems to be energized by being near the ocean.
    2) Sniffing away means "repeatedly sniffing", as dogs do when they're on a walk.
    3) The dog's tail is receiving sea-spray from incoming waves.
    4) The poet likes the feeling of being sprayed by the sea. (I don't. It makes me feel sticky and fogs my glasses. )

    Explaining a poem is a great way to destroy it, isn't it?
    I am not a teacher.

  3. #3
    enjoe is offline Newbie
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    Re: help understand a poem.

    Quote Originally Posted by GoesStation View Post
    1) The poet uses voltage metaphorically to mean "power". The dog seems to be energized by being near the ocean.
    2) Sniffing away means "repeatedly sniffing", as dogs do when they're on a walk.
    3) The dog's tail is receiving sea-spray from incoming waves.
    4) The poet likes the feeling of being sprayed by the sea. (I don't. It makes me feel sticky and fogs my glasses. )

    Explaining a poem is a great way to destroy it, isn't it?

    Thank you so much!

    Indeed, explaining a poem is destroying it. But only after you destroyed it (well, gently, tenderly, with care), could you rebuild it and make it your own.

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