help understand a poem.

enjoe

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Sep 26, 2017
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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.
 

GoesStation

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[strike]One stanza[/strike] I'm having trouble [strike]to[/strike] understanding this stanza: [strike]is as follows:[/strike]
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? :)
 

enjoe

New member
Joined
Sep 26, 2017
Member Type
Interested in Language
Native Language
Chinese
Home Country
China
Current Location
Switzerland
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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