Analysis of “Golden Retrievals” by Mark Doty
by Mark Doty
Fetch? Balls and sticks capture my attention
seconds at a time. Catch? I don’t think so.
Bunny, tumbling leaf, a squirrel who’s—oh
joy—actually scared. Sniff the wind, then
I’m off again: muck, pond, ditch, residue
of any thrillingly dead thing. And you?
Either you’re sunk in the past, half our walk,
thinking of what you never can bring back,
or else you’re off in some fog concerning
—tomorrow, is that what you call it? My work:
to unsnare time’s warp (and woof!), retrieving,
my haze-headed friend, you. This shining bark,
a Zen master’s bronzy gong, calls you here,
entirely, now: bow-wow, bow-wow, bow-wow.
| Title) The title of this poem is “Golden Retrievals,” which is only two letters off from the words “Golden Retrievers”. A golden retriever is presumed to be the speaker in this poem, and the title obviously hints at this fact. The title also offers another perspective into the meaning of the poem, since, after reading the poem, we know that it is not purely about golden retrievers. The reader will realize that Mark Doty has an underlying theme to the poem.
| Paraphrase) This poem starts out by introducing the speaker, which is a golden retriever. Mark Doty does this by writing about activities that dogs generally like to do, “Fetch”, “a squirrel who’s actually scared” and “sniff the wind” are all prototypical activities dogs spend their time doing.The second stanza continues this trend of articulating the dog’s various activities. But by the second line, the dog has shifted his attention towards the activities of his master. The dog is clearly disappointed by his owner’s lack of attention, and describes the owner as being “sunk in the past”.The third stanza goes deeper into the problems with the human mind. The dog is warning his owner that people spend too much time worrying about the future, and that it is up to the dog to bring the...
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