10 Classic Poems about Pets for All Occasions

By Dr Oliver Tearle (Loughborough University)

Poets often keep a variety of pets – loyal or silent companions who have kept them company while they sat and worked, or who even helped to inspire some of their poems. The Victorian poet and painter Dante Gabriel Rossetti is thought to have owned, at one time or another, a deer, salamander, kangaroo, laughing jackass, chameleon, squirrel, mole, woodchuck, parakeet, wombat, and several owls.

Some poets have even immortalised their beloved pets in verse; we choose ten of our favourite ‘pet poems’ below.

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A Short Analysis of Matthew Arnold’s ‘Geist’s Grave’

And as well as penning ‘Thyrsis’, his celebrated elegy for the death of his old friend Arthur Hugh Clough, and ‘Dover Beach’, his lament for Victorian faith, the poet and educator Matthew Arnold (1822-88) also wrote elegies for his pet dog Geist and his canary Matthias. In ‘Geist’s Grave’, Arnold celebrates the four brief years he had his dog Geist, the dachshund who was his ‘little friend’, by his side.

Geist’s Grave

Four years!—and didst thou stay above
The ground, which hides thee now, but four?
And all that life, and all that love,
Were crowded, Geist! into no more?

Only four years those winning ways,
Which make me for thy presence yearn,
Call’d us to pet thee or to praise,
Dear little friend! at every turn?

That loving heart, that patient soul,
Had they indeed no longer span,
To run their course, and reach their goal,
And read their homily to man?

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