Literature & Life

This Dog- Rabindranath Tagore

(A Poem about a Dog’s Love for a Man)

This dog is a translated poem of Rabindranath Tagore. Originally it was written in Bengali. Now let’s read the poem first.

This Dog by Rabindranath Tagore

Every morning this dog, very attached to me,
Quietly keeps sitting near my seat
Till touching its head
I recognize its company.
This recognition gives it so much joy
Pure delight ripples through its entire body.
Among all dumb creatures
It is the only living being
That has seen the whole man
Beyond what is good or bad in him
It has seen
For his love it can sacrifice its life
It can love him too for the sake of love alone
For it is he who shows the way
To the vast world pulsating with life.
When I see its deep devotion
The offer of its whole being
I fail to understand
By its sheer instinct
What truth it has discovered in man.
By its silent anxious piteous looks
It cannot communicate what it understands
But it has succeeded in conveying to me
Among the whole creation
What is the true status of man.

This poem is about the love between the poet and a stray dog. Every morning Rabindranath Tagore would have breakfast at Shanti Niketan. His breakfast consisted a few slices of bread and a cup of tea. When Tagore used to have his breakfast; a stray dog would come there and sit beside him and Tagore would give the dog a couple of slices of bread from his plate but the dog would eat only those slices of bread which were buttered. This would happen every day… therefore, gradually a good friendship is developed between the poet and the dog. If someday, the dog is absent for the breakfast; Tagore would ask his attendants to search for the dog.

At the beginning of the poem, Tagore describes his daily schedule with a dog. They both would have breakfast together. The dog would sit quietly beside the poet’s seat until he touches the head of the dog and when he used to touch his head; pure delight rippled through the whole body of the dog. The dog loved when the poet showed him the recognition. The recognition of the poet gave great joy to the dog. The poet then speaks about the nature of the animals. He says that among all the animals; the dog is the only creature that has seen the whole man beyond what is good or bad in him which means; it accepts us as we are. It is said that, a dog is the only thing on earth that loves you more than you love yourself. The dog always has to offer great love and loyalty to its master.

In the second stanza, the poet speaks about a dog’s love for the human beings.  We all know that the most loyal living being in this world is dog. A dog is different from other animals because it can understand human emotions. A dog can sacrifice its life just for the love of its master. The relationship between man and dog has been there since ages and the same relationship has been described by the poet in this poem. The poet says that, a dog loves man for the sake of love alone… which means a dog’s love is an unconditional love. He further says that, he is able to feel the unconditional love and devotion of a dog but he fails to understand that, what truth a dog finds in a man…which means what do we have in us that makes the dogs love us so much. A dog can offer all its life for a man without expecting anything. That is what the poet is trying to tell us with his own experience with a stray dog. He refers the dog, as this dog to make it clear that it is not his dog… yet the poor animal would come every day and sit beside him just for the sake of his company.

In the third stanza the poet says that, unfortunately a dog cannot speak but it can express itself through its actions and this dog also communicates to the poet through its silent, anxious and piteous looks. It successfully conveys to the poet that, what status man has among the whole creation. A relationship between a dog and human being is out of the world. The love showed by a dog can provide a great satisfaction to human heart. This way the current poem depicts the relationship between a dog and the man. When a human being shows love to a dog it gives us a place of a master in its heart. The dog always commits all of its life for its master therefore, a dog is a symbol of true love and loyalty.

Tagore had an exceptional ability to understand the secrets of nature. He was also able to understand the unconditional love offered by the animals and his experience with a stray dog has been wonderfully described by him in his poem.

Jogan More

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