The Power of the Dog by Rudyard Kipling | Poets.org

Rudyard Kipling's "The Power of the Dog," appears alongside various other texts featuring dogs in Kipling's collectionCollected Dog Stories (Macmillan, 1934).

  • Saturday, March 15, 2014 4:19pm
  • Life

The Power of the Dog

There is sorrow enough in the natural way

From men and women to fill our day;

And when we are certain of sorrow in store,

Why do we always arrange for more?

Brothers and Sisters, I bid you beware

Of giving your heart to a dog to tear.

Buy a pup and your money will buy

Love unflinching that cannot lie–

Perfect passion and worship fed

By a kick in the ribs or a pat on the head.

Nevertheless it is hardly fair

To risk your heart for a dog to tear.

When the fourteen years which Nature permits

Are closing in asthma, or tumour, or fits,

And the vet’s unspoken prescription runs

To lethal chambers or loaded guns,

Then you will find–it’s your own affair–

But … you’ve given your heart to a dog to tear.

When the body that lived at your single will,

With its whimper of welcome, is stilled (how still!).

When the spirit that answered your every mood

Is gone–wherever it goes–for good,

You will discover how much you care,

And will give your heart to a dog to tear.

We’ve sorrow enough in the natural way,

When it comes to burying Christian clay.

Our loves are not given, but only lent,

At compound interest of cent per cent.

Though it is not always the case, I believe,

That the longer we’ve kept ’em, the more do we grieve:

For, when debts are payable, right or wrong,

A short-time loan is as bad as a long–

So why in–Heaven (before we are there)

Should we give our hearts to a dog to tear?

Today’s poem is in the public domain.

About This Poem

Rudyard Kipling’s “The Power of the Dog,” appears alongside various other texts featuring dogs in Kipling’s collectionCollected Dog Stories (Macmillan, 1934).

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