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Lone Dog
Irene Rutherford McLeod


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!

This poem is in the public domain.


Irene Rutherford McLeod (1891 - 1968), was born in Croydon, Surrey, England, to a British father and a Swiss mother. In 1919, she married Aubrey de Sélincourt, a writer and schoolmaster, and they lived in London for most of their years together. Irene wrote three books of verse and at least one published short story. Interesting side note: Aubrey was a brother-in-law of A.A. Milne, author of Winnie the Pooh. One of the Sélincourts’ two daughters, Lesley, married Milne’s son, Christopher Robin.

Post New Comment:
As a 15 year old in Alabama some 67 years ago, my English teacher Miss Johnson introduced this poem to our 9th grade class. Lone Dog and Flanders Field are the two poems that stuck in my mind all these years
Posted 05/14/2024 11:11 PM
This poem became a song, included in an elementary school's 5th grade music curriculum. I loved it!
Posted 01/07/2024 06:43 PM
To hvacradiodoc: Scary stuff. Same age as you, and I also recited this at some time in primary school. Love the rhythm, cadence and impact of the well-chosen words. For some reason, it found its way out of my deep memory into my thoughts recently....
Posted 09/12/2023 01:29 AM
Jim C. I recited this poem for extra credit in my sophomore English class. Don't know where I found it, but loved it from the start and still remember it today some 63 years ago.
Posted 07/20/2023 03:59 AM
My father recited this at a school concert maybe 70 years ago and there was a ripple of laughter because my father was the quintessential lean dog. He would perform it for us from time to time.
Posted 06/05/2022 08:15 PM
Like Drak Cross, I memorized this in the 5th grade 66 years ago. Now that I have a couple of big dogs it crosses my mind more frequently. Maybe in a way wishing for that freedom ourselves.
Posted 04/22/2022 06:51 PM
I remember it from school 55 years ago. English living in Scotland at the time so I related to it in a big way. The only poem I ever remembered in full to this day.
Posted 02/26/2015 09:44 PM
Drak Cross:
When i was in 5th grade i picked this poem because i felt drawn to it . I still do feel drawn back to it when im alone and sad. W ell i love it !!!!
Posted 07/25/2014 03:55 PM

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