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Subject Index
  1. Adventure
  2. Animals
  3. Beauty
  4. Bereavement
  5. Birds
  6. Carpe Diem
  7. Children
  8. Dance
  9. Death
  10. Descriptions
  11. Faith & Religion
  12. Family & Home
  13. Flowers
  14. Food & Drink
  15. Friendship
  16. Garden
  17. Heroes
  18. History
  19. Holidays
  20. Humor
  21. Images
  22. Imagination
  23. Inspiration
  24. Life
  25. Love
  26. Machines
  27. Marriage
  28. Memorials
  29. Memory
  30. Months
  31. Music
  32. Mystery
  33. Nature
  34. Parodies
  35. Parting
  36. Patriotism
  37. People
  38. Places
  39. Poetry
  40. Protest
  41. Rhyme & Rhythm
  42. Satire
  43. School
  44. Sea & Sailing
  45. Seasons
  46. Song
  47. Sport
  48. Stages of Life
  49. Story Telling
  50. Time
  51. Time of Day
  52. Travel
  53. War
  54. Weather
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Chronological Index . Title Index . First Line Index . Title and First Line Index

Subject Index - Animals

There a wealth of poems about animals - and many of them are in the Poets' Corner collection - so many that there is no easy way to generalize them. There are a considerable number of poems about birds alone, so they have their own subject index.

Giant Tortise

We look at many animals and see moving, breathing, often 4-limbed metaphors for ourselves -- for better or for worse. Someone like Robbie Burns can look at a creature as small as a mouse, or even a louse, and come up with some of the most famous words in the English language. In fact many of these poems have famous lines - or at least lines that became simplified and remained part of the language. Thomas Gray's cat is a very good, though sad example.

Common animals (dogs, cats, horses, birds, fish, snakes, mice) show up in many poems, though there are good descriptive poems about more exotic creatures, from mongooses to megalasaurs. We also have numerous poems about ants and spiders and grasshoppers. Blake's animals, particularly the Tyger are familiar to many; more fun to read perhaps are Belloc's Beasts. There are also several poems on how animals view us - Leigh Hunt does this well - and how we view ourselves for our poor treatment of animals - John Clare does this in cruel and relentless detail.


  1. The Tyger by William Blake
    A classic and striking poem built almost entirely of rhetorical questions.
    What immortal hand or eye
    Could frame thy fearful symmetry?


  2. The Chambered Nautilus by Oliver Wendell Holmes
    Holmes builds an analogy between spiritual growth and the spiral shell of the Nautilus,
    Build thee more stately mansions, O my soul,


  3. Robert Burns
  4. A Night With a Wolf by Bayard Taylor
    When the weather is the greater danger.
    Over the roof in the pitch dark night,
    And the winds in the woods a-roaring


  5. On a Favourite Cat, Drowned in a Tub of Gold Fishes by Thomas Gray
    A sad poem - the feline version of Icarus, and an allegory for our reach exceeding our grasp - from this poem we get the paraphrase that "all that glitters is not gold"


  6. To a Mouse by Robert Burns
    From which we get the paraphrase - "the best-laid plans of mice and men oft go astray"


  7. A Narrow Fellow in the Grass by Emily Dickinson
    A snake, of course.


  8. The Badger by John Clare
    This is really a portrait - and a damning one - not of the badger, but of men.


  9. The Ant Explorer by Clarence James Dennis
    An Incredible Journey (on a very small scale)


  10. Deer by John Drinkwater
    A beautiful, mysterious, and alliterative portrait.


  11. Arthur Symons
  12. The Andante of Snakes by Arthur Symons
    Symons clearly did not like snakes. At all.
    Scaled yellow, swampy black, plague-spotted white;
    With blue and lidless eyes at watch they keep
    A treachery of silence; infinite


  13. His Camel by Alqamah
    Some view camels as odious, cantankerous beasts. Not Alquamah.


  14. To a Fish, and A Fish Answers by James Leigh Hunt
    Hey! Who are you calling ugly?


  15. To A Louse by Robert Burns
    While not as famous as the mouse poem, here Burns has, in some ways, the same sentiment as Hunt's fish,
    O wad some Power the giftie gie us
    To see oursels as ithers see us!


  16. The Owl and the Pussy-Cat by Edward Lear
    This cat comes to a much happier end than Gray's. This one begs to be spoken aloud.


  17. Megalosaurus by Babette Deutsch
    Deutsch suggests the dinosaurs are not really extinct. They passed their behaviors on to us.


  18. The Platypus by Oliver Herford
    A metaphor for indecision.


  19. The Grasshopper by Anakreon
    A very ancient ode to an insect.


  20. Camilla Doyle
  21. The Donkey by G. K. Chesterton
    An unexpected perspective.


  22. Coyote by Bret Harte
    A more balanced portrait than Symons snake; at least there's some sympathy.


  23. The Maldive Shark by Herman Melville
    Another unsympathetic portrait - this time of the shark and its pilot fish.


  24. The Yak by Hilaire Belloc
    Everyone's going to want one.


  25. The Dromedary by A.Y. Campbell
    A lesson on dignity in captivity.


  26. The Town Rabbit in the Country by Camilla Doyle
    Perceived paradise for a rabbit.


  27. The Eagle and the Mole by Elinor Wylie
    Wylie's advice for those who need their solitude.


  28. Oliver Herford
  29. Milk for the Cat by Harold Monro
    A cat's obsession, as Munro sees it.


  30. Arachne by Rose Terry Cooke
    She has measured out her life in . . . spider webs.


  31. The Lamb by William Blake
    Another rhetorical piece, this time with an answer.


  32. Address to Certain Goldfishes by Hartley Coleridge
    Are they as happy as they seem?


  33. The Microbe by Hilaire Belloc
    Belloc's poem about a very, very small animal.*


  34. Elegy on the Death of a Mad Dog by Oliver Goldsmith
    Obviously it does not end well for the dog - but not for the reason you might think.


  35. The Mongoos by Oliver Herford
    The Poet argues that this animal missed its calling - with disastrous results for everyone.


  36. To the Grasshopper and the Cricket by James Leigh Hunt
    Catching your heart up at the feel of June,
    Sole voice that's heard amidst the lazy noon,



  37. * Yes, I know, if the microbe is single celled it may not be an Animal.

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