Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Dog Songs” as Want to Read:
Dog Songs
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Dog Songs

4.20  ·  Rating details ·  8,028 ratings  ·  1,157 reviews
Mary Oliver's Dog Songs is a celebration of the special bond between human and dog, as understood through the poet's relationship to the canines that have accompanied her daily walks, warmed her home, and inspired her work. Oliver's poems begin in the small everyday moments familiar to all dog lovers, but through her extraordinary vision these observations become higher me ...more
Hardcover, 127 pages
Published October 8th 2013 by The Penguin Press
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Dog Songs, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Debra Golden Dip into it a bit at a time. Poetry can be savored slowly like a rich desert.
I like reading related poems about one dog at a time. I especially loved…more
Dip into it a bit at a time. Poetry can be savored slowly like a rich desert.
I like reading related poems about one dog at a time. I especially loved "For I will consider my dog Percy". "For he was a mixture of gravity and waggery." Their voices came through. Look at the illustrations (by Oliver?) - tender and lovely - and reflect back on the voices.(less)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.20  · 
Rating details
 ·  8,028 ratings  ·  1,157 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Dog Songs
☘Misericordia☘ ⚡ϟ⚡⛈⚡☁ ❇️❤❣
The good:
Or maybe it’s about the wonderful things that may happen if you break the ropes that are holding you. (c)
He shrugged his shoulders casually and
smiled. “Je suis un chien du monde,”
he said. (c)
Listen, a junkyard puppy
learns quickly how to dream.
Listen, whatever you see and love—
that’s where you are. (c)
Some things are unchangeably wild, others are stolidly tame. The tiger is wild, and the coyote, and the owl. I am tame, you are tame. There are wild things that have been altered,
Carmen Ambrosio
Nov 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I shared this book with my dog Sam. Here is his review:

Pawfect Poems

I spent some of Sunday peering over Mistress Carmen's shoulder as she read Dog Songs. It's obvious to me that Puplitzer (or whatever the prize name is) poet and devoted dog mom Mary Oliver has deciphered the canine communications code. Doggie fans will feel the human-dog love and mutual admiration she describes throughout her latest book.

After reading Miss Mary's tales of her dogs romping in the sand and surf unleashed, I may h
Cathrine ☯️
Jan 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
4✚ 🐶 🐶 🐶 🐶 woofing.
"The dog would remind us of the pleasures of the body with its graceful physicality, and the acuity and rapture of the senses, and the beauty of forest and ocean and rain and our own breath. There is not a dog that romps and runs but we learned from him . . .
Because of the dog’s joyfulness, our own is increased. It is no small gift. It is the reason why we should honor as well as love the dog of our own life, and the dog down the street, and all the dogs yet not born. What wou
Sep 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
This book of poems by Mary Oliver is a homage to dogs. You can tell that she loved her dogs from what the way she writes about them. If you are a dog lover, you will most definitely enjoy this book, as I did. A favourite from one of her poems:
"For there was nothing sweeter than his
When at rest.
For there was nothing brisker than his life
In motion"
Susan Budd
I dedicate this review to all the dogs I’ve loved:

The pretty little Boston Terrier who had such delicate features for a Boston Terrier. My family’s first dog. I believe she was supposed to be my dog, but of course, she preferred to be my mother’s dog. (Dogs decide whose dogs they are. It’s not up to us.)

The Irish Setter who joined our family later. She would run laps in the shop yard next door in the early evening when the gates were shut and the sun just beginning to set. Her feathery auburn ha
Apr 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
Likable poems about puppies and doggies. Makes me wish that I had one! 🐶
Jul 10, 2020 rated it liked it
I am not a lover of poetry; I am a lover of dogs. Knowing Mary Oliver as a renowned poet, I thought perhaps poetry about dogs, or through their eyes, might be just the thing for me. I now love Mary Oliver. Who would not love someone who understands and loves dogs as I do. Could dogs bring me to the world of poetry? Maybe.
“Tell me you love me,” he says.
“Tell me again.”
Could there be a sweeter arrangement? Over and over
he gets to ask.
I get to tell.

This Sunday, I am attending a memorial for River—my best friend’s dog, soulmate, of eight years, my god-dog and best friend of just one. She passed unexpectedly one month ago, and I have not stopped thinking of her since.

I picked up this collection to find some poems I could read at her memorial; I found what I came looking for, and more. Serenity, love, and the sor
Whitney Atkinson
Nov 19, 2017 rated it it was ok
I don't regret reading this book, it was just so bland and lacking any purpose. It was just kind of a homage to all the dogs she's owned, but since I've never met them, I really couldn't relate to it. So these were quick and lighthearted, but I had no connection to it and it didn't even really offer a broad stance on why dogs are great, it was just central to her dogs. overall, meh. ...more
Ryk Stanton
Mar 26, 2014 rated it did not like it
The only things that makes anything in this book a "poem" are line breaks and stanza breaks - there is no consideration of rhyme, meter, figurative language, or anything else associated with poems. The ideas she explores in her poems are not particularly meaningful either. I actually checked Amazon to be sure this was a real book and not just some random person's chapbook of poems about dogs. It turns out that Mary Oliver is apparently someone well-liked for her writing; I just don't see it. I c ...more
Khashayar Mohammadi
I just didn't care for Mary Oliver's Dog Poems. ...more
Jul 26, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Breezy, charming, and, for dog lovers, irresistible. "Because of the dog's joyfulness, our own is increased. It is no small gift." ...more
Reading_ Tam_ Ishly
Sep 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is one of the best books I have ever read👍
And that too on dogs!
And that too poetry!
*Main highlights:
✨Love the sketches of different dogs!
✨Love the different situations described
✨Love the way how everything has been written with her signature charming play of words
✨Some poems made me light, some made me feel too heavy with emotions
✨Most of the poems made me happy, made me love dogs more
I specifically loved the poems on Percy!
***Totally recommended for dog lovers!

(I just love my canine beings
Dec 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing
All of my years are "dog" years, but this last one even more than most because I have cared for a beloved aged dog and let her go before her life became unbearably painful, and now I'm up at 5 am with a wriggly, full of life puppy. So it is fitting that the first book I finished in 2016 is this lovely volume of poetry by Mary Oliver about the many companions she has had over the years. Humorous, a few. Wistful, many. All of them a wonderful look into the eyes and hearts of our best furry friends ...more
Jan 06, 2014 rated it it was ok
Near the end of Mary Oliver's most recent collection of poetry is a short essay in which she has a revelation about the titular animal, one that deserves to be reprinted in full:

But I want to extol not the sweetness nor the placidity of the dog, but the wilderness out of which he cannot step entirely, and from which we benefit. For wilderness is our first home too, and in our wild ride into modernity with all its concerns and problems we need also the good attachments of that origin that we keep
Jul 02, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: dogs, poetry
(2.5) So-so poems about various dogs she’s known and loved in a lifetime of pet ownership. My disappointment lies in two facts: most of these 35 poems have appeared in print before, and the text is only printed on one side of each page. The latter strikes me as a shameless attempt to make the book appear double its length (so 120 pages rather than 60). The line drawings by John Burgoyne are lovely, however, so I could see this making a suitable gift for a die-hard dog lover. Favorite individual ...more
Jenny (Reading Envy)
Mary Oliver is responsible for one of the poems that means a lot to me, Wild Geese. Every time I pick up a book of her poems, I am looking for a poem that I connect with on that same level.

I am often disappointed, because how often can true connection occur? Mary enjoys writing about the small parts of life - nature is a frequent theme, and in this collection, it's dogs. She loves dogs.

I love dogs too, and know my aging beagle is not going to be around much longer (we feel like we're counting m
Jun 26, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Oliver poignantly captures the emotional bond between dog and human -- they are not just pets, but family.
May 09, 2019 rated it liked it
A sweet tribute to dogs with sweet drawings.
Oct 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
I have loved Mary Oliver since college, and I have loved dogs for pretty much my entire life.

So, yes, this pairing was as glorious for me as it sounds. I went out and bought the book tonight on my work break, and I'm already done reading it. Granted, I need to sit down and give it a thorough once over, twice over, etc. And, I will.

However, I don't need to do that before I write this review because I have read everything--every word in the book, and I love it.

Mary Oliver's poetry is simple, and p
SheriC (PM)
Warning: some morbid thoughts ahead.

Mary Oliver celebrates the nature of dogs in this little book of poetry, and to a lesser extent, the nature of our relationship with our pets. I have some fundamental disagreement with her views about keeping them unleashed and letting them roam free, though. Perhaps she’s never seen someone’s pet in the road with his guts smeared on the pavement, or walked through a city animal shelter full of half-starved strays, and had to choose just one, only one, to tak
Aug 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favourites, poetry
Because of the dog’s joyfulness, our own is increased. It is no small gift…

A wonderful collection of poems beautifully read by Mary Oliver herself. The poems are crisp, accessible and at times very moving. They not only convey the simple joys of having a furry friend, but are, more fundamentally, a celebration of life and a reminder to live it to the fullest. Highly recommended (especially if you're a dog lover)!

Be prepared. A dog is adorable and noble. A dog is a true and loving friend. A dog i
Александра Огнаноска
Mary Oliver perfectly describes the heart-warming kinship between dogs and their owners. Their playfulness outside and thoughtfulness at home. Their ability to listen attentively, cheer us up vivaciosly. Utterly adorable, wise and sentimental.
Aug 10, 2020 added it
Shelves: good
this was so full of love...
anna frey
Nov 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I read it out loud to my dog and he loved it
Mar 14, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2018-reads
Poetry is foreign to me, so don't judge 'Dog Songs' by my extremely inexperienced commentary here. I set out to read more poetry this year, and Mary Oliver has a lot of fans. I figured poems about dogs might be a good place to start, and indeed they were. In this small book, complete with beautiful illustrations of some of her special dogs, Oliver shares much more than her lifelong love of canines; she also shares relatable imagery of the great big universe called life, and the small corners of ...more
H.A. Leuschel
May 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I grew up with a dog as companion and this book is a gorgeous tribute to the joy these four-legged friends offer us. The illustrations are delightful as well!
Feb 26, 2015 rated it really liked it
Short and sweet.

Listen, whatever you see and love --
that’s where you are.

- Luke’s Junkyard Song

into the air
where the bees,
their bodies
heavy with pollen

hovered --
and easily
she adored
every blossom,

not in the serious,
careful way
that we choose
this blossom or that blossom --

the way we praise or don’t praise --
the way we love
or don’t love --
but the way

we long to be --
that happy
in the heaven of earth --
that wild, that loving.

- Luke

He’s gone now, from the world of particulars,
the singul
Feb 16, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Poems are great, but leash your damn dogs

The dog lover in me enjoyed these poems and smiled at almost all of them. But the former animal shelter employee in me cringed every time I read her poems and essays advocating for “off-leash” and romps that had no “result.” Look, part of loving dogs is wanting them to not be hit by cars, attacked by other animals, OR die needlessly in shelters because of overpopulation. So while the poems are great, I couldn’t help but cringe over and over.
May 07, 2016 rated it it was ok
I tried reading this to get me out of an awful reading slump but it wasn't that great. I thought it was going to be a book compiled of amazing and sweet poems about dogs. However, the poems were not very good in my opinion and it wasn't enjoyable. I felt as if I was dragging myself through it even though it was just over 100 pages and was full of poems. Definitely wasn't what I thought I was going to be reading. Unfortunately, I wouldn't recommend this one no matter how much you like/love dogs. ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Manchester Distri...: May 2018 Discussion: "Dog Songs" 1 4 May 15, 2018 05:33PM  
2015 Reading Chal...: Dog Songs by Mary Oliver 1 10 Jul 11, 2015 10:01PM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • Dearly: New Poems
  • Haiku: An Anthology of Japanese Poems
  • Home Body
  • A Poem Traveled Down My Arm: Poems and Drawings
  • Be Holding
  • The Tradition
  • Daylight
  • Faithful and Virtuous Night
  • The War Works Hard
  • Klara and the Sun
  • From Sand Creek
  • Stella
  • How to Fly: In Ten Thousand Easy Lessons
  • Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude
  • Aimless Love: New and Selected Poems
  • An American Sunrise
  • The Octopus Museum
  • We Speak Your Names: A Celebration
See similar books…
Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the Goodreads database with this name. See this thread for more information.

“In a region that has produced most of the nation's poet laureates, it is risky to single out one fragile 71-year-old bard of Provincetown. But Mary Oliver, who won the Pulitzer Prize in poetry in 1983, is my choice for her joyous, accessible, intimate observations of the na

News & Interviews

Twists, turns, red herrings, the usual suspects: These books have it all...and more. If you love mysteries and thrillers, get ready for dozens...
126 likes · 31 comments
No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »
“Because of the dog's joyfulness, our own is increased. It is no small gift. It is not the least reason why we should honor as well as love the dog of our own life, and the dog down the street, and all the dogs not yet born. What would the world be like without music or rivers or the green and tender grass? What would this world be like without dogs?” 98 likes
“You may not agree, you may not care, but
if you are holding this book you should know that of all the sights I love in this world — and there are plenty — very near the top of the list is this one: dogs without leashes.”
More quotes…