In the short and direct lines of this poem, the poet utilizes simple and easy-to-understand language. The dog-speaker conveys a clear and easy-to-relate message. Even if one has not lost a pet of their own, the message in ‘Waiting at the Door‘ should be easy to understand.
Explore Waiting at the Door
‘Waiting at the Door’ is a poem told from the perspective of a dog. This kindly, recently deceased pet addresses their owner who is mourning their loss.
The speaker of this poem is immediately revealed to be a recently deceased, much-loved dog in the first lines of the poem. The dog is speaking to their owner who is grieving their loss. They tell this person that they know they’re sad, but they should also remember that they gave the dog-speaker a wonderful life filled with love. Even though it seems impossible now, they are going to be waiting for their owner when they arrive at Heaven’s door.
You can read the full poem here.
Structure and Form
‘Waiting at the Door’ is a five-stanza poem that is divided into sets of four lines, known as quatrains. The lines follow a rhyme scheme of ABCB, changing end sounds from stanza to stanza. This is the traditional rhyme scheme of a ballad stanza or hymn stanza. The musical qualities of the poem also come through in the poet’s use of similar-length lines. But, generally, the odd-numbered lines are longer than the even-numbered lines.
Throughout this poem, the poet makes use of several literary devices. These include but are not limited to:
- Enjambment: can be seen when the poet cuts off a line before its natural stopping point. For example, the transition between lines lines three and four of the fourth stanza.
- Imagery: occurs when the poet uses particularly interesting examples and descriptions. Imagery should trigger the readers senses, inspiring them to imagine the scene in great detail. For example, “I know your heart is sore, / I see the tears that fall when.”
- Alliteration: occurs when the poet repeats the same consonant sound at the beginning of multiple lines. For example, “picked” and “placed” in lines three and four of the first stanza.
I was just a pup when we first met,
I loved you from the start,
but years passed all too quickly,
my time has come to go.
In the first lines of this poem, the speaker begins by acknowledging that they were just a “pup” when they first met their intended listener. From these opening lines, readers are immediately exposed to the fact that the speaker of the poem is a dog. The dog, personified with the ability to communicate with their human being, is talking to the person who owned them throughout their life. This dog has since passed away and is speaking from the afterlife.
The dog-speaker takes a warm tone towards their owner. They tell this person that they know that they loved them from the start and gave them an important place in their heart. The perfect rhyme scheme in these stanzas gives the poem a distinct song-like quality. This helps convey the peaceful and kind tone of the speaker.
The dog looks back on the life they had with their owner in the second stanza. The years passed “too quickly” and it has come time for the dog to “go.” This is a euphemism for passing away (which is itself a euphemism). The dog has died and is taking these lines to speak to their owner, still alive, and morning for them.
I know how much you miss me,
I know your heart is sore,
for even though it broke your heart
You set my spirit free.
The refrain appears in the third stanza. It reads “waiting at the door.” The speaker also makes use of anaphora in these lines. They begin the first two lines with “I know” and the third line with “I.”
In a way that should move the reader, the dog tells this person that they know how much they are missed and how painful the loss is. This is even more pronounced when the listener arrives home, and the dog is not waiting for them at the door.
Also, in an effort to make their owner feel better, the dog tells them that they know this person always did the best for them, and then even though it hurt them, they “set [the dog’s] spirit free.” This may allude to the hard decision that many pet owners have to make when their animal is sick, and their quality of life has suffered.
So please be brave without me,
I’ll be Waiting at the Door.
In the final stanza, readers can find the refrain one more time (in the last line). This is preceded by the dog asking their owner to “be brave” until they arrive in Heaven and see their dog waiting for them at Heaven’s door.
This sweet and moving poem concludes on an optimistic note, suggesting that while it may feel like it, the dog’s death is not the end. The owner and their beloved animal will be together again in Heaven.
It is unclear who authored this poem. But, it is incredibly popular. It can be found printed on posters, notecards, and various kinds of wall art. What is clear is that the author understands the emotions connected to the loss of a pet.
The speaker is a recently deceased, much-loved dog. The dog is speaking to their owner from Heaven, attempting to soothe their heart and make their grief somewhat less painful. They told their owner that this is not the end and that in the future, the dog is going to be waiting at Heaven’s door for them to arrive.
Readers who enjoyed this poem should also consider reading some related poems. For example:
- ‘The Rainbow Bridge’ – a beautiful, uplifting poem that is dedicated to those who have lost their pets and are looking for solace.
- ‘To Flush, My Dog’ by Elizabeth Barrett Browning – was written in loving devotion to the poet’s much-loved, constant companion, Flush.
- ‘Epitaph to a Dog’ by Lord Byron – also known as ‘Inscription on the Monument to a Newfoundland Dog’ was written in 1808 after the poet’s dog Boatswain had died of rabies.