Poetry Riddle: Charles Simic

Charles Simic is not considered as ‘difficult’ as ‘John Ashbery’. But one of his poems still mystery to me. I have been tracking this poem for years and still have no clues. I have some idea but they are solely mine, no support from literary world. If anyone of you ever find an explanation of this poem, I will greatly apreciate. I put so many hours to unravel the mystery here but each time I failed.



If you didn’t see the six-legged dog,
It doesn’t matter.
We did, and he mostly lay in the corner.
As for the extra legs,

One got used to them quickly
And thought of other things.
Like, what a cold, dark night
To be out at the fair.

Then the keeper threw a stick
And the dog went after it
On four legs, the other two flapping behind,
Which made one girl shriek with laughter.

She was drunk and so was the man
Who kept kissing her neck.
The dog got the stick and looked back at us.
And that was the whole show.


Remember, Simic usually writes poems about the Yugoslavian WAR.

We know that the european poetry very deep, rich and huaunted with experiences.

I have a personal theory about this poem which is based on the Yugoslavian ‘WAR ‘ context.

In my opinion, solely mine, there are two clues in the poem. The first one is the ’six-legged dog’ and the second one is the last line where he was ‘converting the observer as observant and vice versa as if we are being watched by the dog, we ourselves are the show, not the dog.

A poet like Simic, in my opinion, can not just introduce a ’six-legged-dog’ without any reason.

Then I jumped into Yugoslavian recent war history and discovered that out of SIX republics, FOUR of them :’ S.R. Slovenia’, ‘S.R. Croatia’, ‘S.R.Macedonia’ and ‘S.R. Bosnia and Herzegovina’ – had seceded
in 1992 from the republic. They are the FOUR ‘acting’ legs of the dog, the other two ‘flapping legs’ were Serbia and Montenegro. Please visit the following URL for details: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yugoslavia

The rest became clearer(apparently!) to me since he was able to convince the audience that even with the two ’sickening’ flapping legs, the dog(Infact the whole state has been replaced by the dog!) was able to do his duty, perform function normally although the girl ’shrieked’ with lauhgther.
here the girl is the rest of the world or other observer or simic himself!

The dog mostly layed in corner-which tells that the extra leggs were burdensome for him, infact this division was burdensome for the whole nation, for the rest.

So the main theme is that even with divisions of the republic it is possible to
go along without fight, without a WAR.
His question was, probably, ‘Look, even a dog can act concordantly with incompatible six body parts–then why not the Yugoslavians??”

And “That was the whole show”-he finished with this theme.

But the entire analysis is from my individual’s perspective and there is no academic explanation  from anywhere else or any references. These are just the figments of my mind.

If anybody has more refined explanations that will be great.


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