‘Lone Dog’ a poem by Irene Rutherford Mcleod (1891-)

Irene Rutherford McCleod, an Australian born poet who wrote ‘Songs to Save the Soul’ (1915) and ‘Before Dawn’ (1918); her poem ‘Lone Dog’ has been republished in many anthologies.

She was the sister-in-law of A.A. Milne and indeed one of her daughters, Lesley, married Christopher Robin Milne in 1949.

We love the the rhythm of this poem; the way it chugs along and  raises a snarled lip to anyone who dares challenge. It’s definitely one to be read aloud and students can write their own versions by simply changing the list of adjectives –

I’m a meek dog, a sleepy dog, a lazy dog it’s true; lolling by the fire is what I’d rather do.

Lone Dog

I’m a lean dog, a keen dog, a wild dog, and lone;
I’m a rough dog, a tough dog, hunting on my own;
I’m a bad dog, a mad dog, teasing silly sheep;
I love to sit and bay the moon, to keep fat souls from sleep.
I’ll never be a lap dog, licking dirty feet,
A sleek dog, a meek dog, cringing for my meat,
Not for me the fireside, the well-filled plate,
But shut door, and sharp stone, and cuff and kick, and hate.
Not for me the other dogs, running by my side,
Some have run a short while, but none of them would bide.
O mine is still the lone trail, the hard trail, the best,
Wide wind, and wild stars, and hunger of the quest!

About The Henry Brothers

We are English teachers involved in ELT publishing in Turkey, and also touring the country giving workshops and presentations to English teachers, mainly on the use of poetry, storytelling and other lively activities in the classroom. We can be contacted by e-mail to canmoorcroft@gmail.com or paul.zarraga@gmail.com
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5 Responses to ‘Lone Dog’ a poem by Irene Rutherford Mcleod (1891-)

  1. hilal says:

    Dear Henry Brothers, is it possible to add your audio or video reading the poems you share? Would be much interesting and easier for me to imitate:) since I am not a native speaker.

  2. Meg says:

    Dear Bros,
    I learned this poem by heart in (Australia) grade 5 in 1975 , thanks to my class teacher. I never forgot it, And now that I am a poet and spoken word artist, I have come back to often include this in my sets, to great response. It is a wonderfully written piece, using all the best poetic devices. Bit more than that, it describes the artistic state. As evinced by movies such as ‘Wolf at the Door”, about Gaugin.
    I’m so grateful it was part of my education. So amazed to find it referenced on the net. And that someone is teaching it still.
    Meg Dunn (Melbourne 2012)

  3. Pingback: Lone Dog « Patrice Clarkson's Blog

  4. Carmen says:

    I too was taught this poem in Junior School and never forgot it. I felt it summed me up as things were hard for me after losing my Mum aged five. To me it has lots of meanings and the main one being strength of character.

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