A Short Analysis of Emily Dickinson’s ‘A little Dog that wags his tail’

The meaning of Dickinson’s great dog poem – analysed by Dr Oliver Tearle

‘A little Dog that wags his tail’ is not one of Emily Dickinson’s best-known poems, so a few words of analysis may help to clarify its meaning. It starts off sounding as though it’s going to be a dog poem – a sort of companion-piece to Dickinson’s celebrated poem about a cat – but then it quickly turns into a poem about something else entirely…

A little Dog that wags his tail
And knows no other joy
Of such a little Dog am I
Reminded by a Boy

Who gambols all the living Day
Without an earthly cause
Because he is a little Boy
I honestly suppose –

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