To a Dog Injured in the Street by William Carlos Williams

It is myself,

not the poor beast lying there

yelping, with pain

that brings me to myself with a start-

as at the explosion

of a bomb. A bomb that has laid

all the world a waste.

I can do nothing

but sing about it.

& So I am assuaged

from my pain.

A drowsy numbness drowns my sense

as if of hemlock

I had drunk. I think

of the poetry

of René Char

& all he must have seen

& suffered

that has brought him to speak only of

sedgy rivers,

of daffodils & tulips

whose roots they water,

Even to the free-flowing river

that laves the rootlets

of those sweet-scented flowers

that people the



I remember Norma

Our English Setter of my childhood

her silky ears

& expressive eyes.

She had a litter of pups one night

in our pantry & I kicked

one of them

thinking, in my alarm

that they

were trying to bite her breasts

to destroy her.

I remember also

a dead rabbit

lying harmlessly

on the outspread palm

of a hunter’s hand.

As I stood by


he took a hunting knife

& with a laugh

thrust it

up into the animal’s private parts.

I almost fainted.

Why should I think of that now?

The cries of a dying dog

are to be blotted out

as best I can.

René Char,

you are a poet who believes

in the power of beauty

to right all wrongs.

I believe it also.

With invention & courage

We shall surpass

The pitiful dumb beasts,

Let all men believe it,

As you have taught me also

to believe it.


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