by Jane Yolen
A shaggy ally, he often walked
Beside me to the other house.
And while I sat awhile and talked,
He lay as still as any mouse—
Though many many times the size.
When we marched back across the lawn
He could have chased the butterflies
Or raced a squirrel, and then be gone.
But never once he left my side,
Companioning with hulking grace.
Ignoring jays—their loud deride—
He turned up a devoted face
As true to me as sun that spills
Its farewell on the silent hills.
Copyright © 2012 Jane Yolen. All Rights Reserved. From the book The Emily Sonnets: The Life of Emily Dickenson. Creative Editions. Reprinted by permission of the author.
Emily Dickinson’s faithful dog was a giant Newfoundland her father had given her in the early1850s. He thought the dog, which needed daily runs, might help her overcome her fear of going out in public.She named the dog Carlo after a dog in her favoritenovel, Jane Eyre, and wrote about him to Thomas Wentworth Higginson: “You ask of my companions. Hills, sir, and the sundown, and a dog large as myself, that my father bought me. They are better than beings becausethey know, but do not tell. . .” She had Carlo for sixteen years. After he died in January 1866, she grieved mightily and could never bring herself to get another dog.
This poem, like the others in the book, are all sonnets because it was not the sort of poem ED wrote. I could never compete with her work, nor would I want to.
Jane Yolen, often called “the Hans Christian Andersen of America”(Newsweek) and the “Aesop of the Twentieth Century” (N.Y. Times) is the author of well over 335 books, including Owl Moon, The Devil’s Arithmetic, and How do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight. Her work ranges from rhymed picture books and baby board books, through middle grade fiction, poetry collections, nonfiction, and up to novels and poetry and story collections for young adults and adults, too. She has also written lyrics for folk rock singers and folk rock groups, several animated shorts, and done voice over work as well as talk radio.
Her books and stories have won an assortment of awards–two Nebulas, a World Fantasy Award, a Caldecott, the Golden Kite Award, three Mythopoeic awards, two Christopher Medals, a nomination for the National Book Award, and the Jewish Book Award, among many others. Her poetry has been nominated three times for the Pushcart Prize. She is also the winner (for body of work) of the World Fantasy Assn. Lifetime Achievement Award, Science Fiction Poetry Association Grand Master Award, the Catholic Library’s Regina Medal, the Kerlan Medal from the University of Minnesota, the 2012 du Grummond Medal, the Smith College Alumnae Medal. She taught for seven years at Smith College, her alma mater, and lectured at colleges, libraries, and schools around the world. Six colleges and universities have given her honorary doctorates.
Also worthy of note, she lost her fencing foil in Grand Central Station on a date, fell overboard while white water rafting in the Colorado, and her Skylark Award–given by NESFA, the New England Science Fiction Association–set her good coat on fire.
If you need to know more about her, visit her website at: www.janeyolen.com
Thanks, Kenn and Jane. Exquisite poem. That closing couplet is a killer!
Another prize from Jane. Connie