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Forum Home » High Critique » High Critque Forum Post: "Dog Days of August"

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8/22/2021 8:21:15 AM

Dennis Spilchuk
Posts: 2
Dog Days of August (Dennis Spilchuk)

When my friend has something to say,
He lets me know in his own way.
He wags his tail and pricks his ears,
And barks out loud for me to hear.

Sometimes he'll act ridiculous
And get downright cantankerous.
And tongue pants while looking around
Disgusted when I don't respond.

And then for fun I'll stare him down,
But he doesn't flinch, blink or hound.
He's the boss and calls the shots.
And when it's time to go, we hop.

Lucky and me were born in August.
During dog days that are hottest.
As the years rolled by, we grew older.
His face whitened, and I grew taller.
***

Note:
The month of August is named after Augustus Caesar, the first Roman emperor (63 BC-14 AD). August babies are considered lucky. In the Northern Hemisphere, the "Dog Days" of summer are usually very hot and humid, and last about forty days, from July 3 to August 11. They are so known since Roman times because Sirius (aka the "Dog Star") located int the constellation Canis Major ("The Great Dog"), rose at the same time.

edited by Denny 747 on 8/25/2021
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9/17/2021 3:12:37 PM

Twelve Twelve
Posts: 9
Absolutely love that the reader can feel the affection you have for your dog.



There are a few grammatical changes that could be made -- or perhaps they're in there to give it a more "Where the Red Fern Grows" vibe? If 'loud' is modifying 'barks', it should grammatically be 'loudly'; "Lucky and me" ought to be "Lucky and I," but maybe that doesn't work for the poem.




Consider changing "And tongue" to "His tongue." Not sure you need the "And" in "And then for fun."




Weakest line: And when it's time to go, we hop. I don't think 'hop' works here.




Last verse is the best. Consider lengthening lines by adding adjectives.




Overall, a nice read. It has a wonderfully happy feel to it. TFS.
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9/19/2021 12:03:13 PM

Dennis Spilchuk
Posts: 2
Twelve wrote:
Absolutely love that the reader can feel the affection you have for your dog.

1) There are a few grammatical changes that could be made -- or perhaps they're in there to give it a more "Where the Red Fern Grows" vibe? If 'loud' is modifying 'barks', it should grammatically be 'loudly'; "Lucky and me" ought to be "Lucky and I," but maybe that doesn't work for the poem.
2) Consider changing "And tongue" to "His tongue." Not sure you need the "And" in "And then for fun."
3) Weakest line: And when it's time to go, we hop. I don't think 'hop' works here.
4) Last verse is the best. Consider lengthening lines by adding adjectives.
Overall, a nice read. It has a wonderfully happy feel to it. TFS.


Reply:
I sincerely appreciate your analysis and would like to offer the following explanations, and would sincerely appreciate your feedback:

1) As you mention, loud is an adjective and loudly is an adverb. The dog would bark loudly if it wanted to draw attention because of some external force or to deter an external force; however, in this case, it is used as an idiom; the dog barks "out loud" (not incessantly or annoyingly in a very loud or frenzied way) to communicate, emphasizing that it has a point to make (like an adult would when telling or reminding a child to do something; they speak "out loud" implying it’s a serious matter at hand; not loudly repeating and shouting over someone’s head to be heard or to make a scene).
The premise of the fictional story “Where the Red Fern Grows” is filled with violence, and I can’t understand how you can compare it to my poem.
I did consider "Lucky and I", but it sounded so artificial, whereas "Lucky and me" is more realistic from a child’s perspective. The narrative is about a boy telling the reader about the relationship he shares with his dog.
The opening line sets the tone: “When my friend has something to say, he lets me know in his own way.”

2) "Tongue pants" in this case does not mean the dog is panting with "his tongue" to cool down, but is used as an idiom. The dog is frustrated and pants and uses other gestures to express or communicate. The child knows what the dog is inferring, but stubbornly engages in childish behaviours to which the dog reacts in standing its ground.

3) The idiom “hop to it” means immediately or right now, no questions asked. I hope the sense of responsibility placed upon the dog by the child’s parents or guardians is apparent. I stress in the poem that the child looks upon the dog as a friend and equal, whom he listens to with respect, albeit he plays games with the dog before conceding.

4) The poem is a quatrain in which I employ 7 to 9 syllables per line with rhyme and flow. Just adding adjectives and adverbs to lines as fillers just doesn’t cut it in poetry.
edited by Denny 747 on 9/19/2021
edited by Denny 747 on 9/19/2021
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