The Book of Dog Poems and The Book of Cat Poems by Ana Sampson and Sarah Maycock: A truly memorable celebration of everyone’s favourite pets - book review -

‘The better I get to know men, the more I find myself loving dogs,’ said former French president Charles de Gaulle, while Charles Dickens wrote ‘What greater gift than the love of a cat.’

By Pam Norfolk
Friday, 3rd September 2021, 12:30 pm
The Book of Dog Poems
The Book of Dog Poems

They are sentiments that will undoubtedly be shared by dog and cat lovers the world over so here are two word – and picture – perfect books to delight, entertain and make the perfect gifts for your own special fans of animals and inspirational poetry.

The Book of Dog Poems and The Book of Cat Poems have been immaculately conceived and curated by anthologist Ana Sampson whose recent work includes two outstanding volumes of poetry by women – She is Fierce (an Amazon number one category bestseller) and She Will Soar – and a collection of poetry about motherhood, Night Feeds and Morning Songs.

Produced in beautiful hardback editions, with ribbon markers, and filled with the fabulous, ink-toned illustrations of talented artist Sarah Maycock, these gorgeous dog and cat anthologies are a truly memorable celebration of everyone’s favourite pets.

The Book of Dog Poems, which includes the work of William Wordsworth, Rudyard Kipling, Emily Dickinson and Thomas Hardy, gives readers an eloquent and heartwarming reminder of the age-old powerful relationship between humans and their dogs, a bond that has inspired many of the world’s greatest poets.

In his poem, simply titled The Dog, American poet Ogden Nash wrote with mischievous affection, ‘The truth I do not stretch or shove When I state that the dog is full of love. I’ve also found, by actual test, A wet dog is the lovingest.’

Sometimes funny, sometimes moving, the sixty dog-themed poems feature dogs of all ages – from frisky puppies to grizzled hounds – and imagine a dog’s-eye view of the world, whether that’s a love for tasty puddles, or the pity felt for poor humans who can’t smell a bird’s breath.

Some poets, like Dorothy Parker and Rupert Brooke, delight in the mischief of their mutts, the dirty dogs, the snappers and the scrappers while others describe the agony of being apart from their dogs or the joy to be found in their loyalty.

From welcoming a lively new canine companion, to heart-rending verse about the death of a faithful dog that has been a true friend, every dog has its day in this warm, affectionate and enchanting poetic tribute.

And in The Book of Cat Poems – a celebration of the world’s most loved pet by the world’s most loved poets – we discover how curious, enigmatic and playful cats have set fire to literary imaginations down the centuries.

Featuring sixty poems by famous names like John Keats, Margaret Atwood, D H Lawrence, Oscar Wilde and W.B.Yeats, this purrfect verse brings us leaping kittens, elegant, elderly felines, capricious cats, choosy cats, demanding cats and cats that like to express their disapproval.

‘See the kitten, how she starts, Crouches, stretches, paws and darts; With a tiger-leap half way Now she meets her coming prey. Lets it go as fast and then Has it in her power again,’ noted William Wordsworth in his poem, The Kitten at Play.

This beautiful tribute to feline friends recognises that no human can be said to ‘own’ a cat, these animals merely consent to share our lives, always aware that they are ‘doing us a terrific favour.’ And only a true cat lover can understand the ‘deep, quiet pleasures of this relationship,’ explains Sampson in her introduction to the anthology.

Also filled with Maycock’s stunning illustrations, which capture the gloriously fickle but adorable personalities of cats, The Book of Cat Poems is the last word in cat love.

(Laurence King Publishing, hardback, £12.99 each)