can someone please help me analyze "canis major" by robert frost?

Discussion in 'Community Discussion' started by steph90, Mar 15, 2008.

  1. steph90 macrumors newbie

    Mar 13, 2008
    The great Overdog
    That heavenly beast
    With a star in one eye
    Gives a leap in the east.

    He dances upright
    All the way to the west
    And never once drops
    On his forefeet to rest.

    I'm a poor underdog,
    But to-night I will bark
    With the great Overdog
    That romps through the dark.

    I am a little confused, I know this is talking about star gazing...the underdog is the person watching canis major with a star in its eye (Sirius). Why does it spend a whole stanza (stanza #2) talking about how it moves? Why will the "poor underdog" bark "tonight"?
  2. JNB macrumors 604


    Oct 7, 2004
    In a Hell predominately of my own making
    You may be overanalyzing it. It's a very simple, plainly descriptive work, no deeper or hidden references; it is just what it appears to be.

    Stanza #2 just describes the movement of the constellation across the night sky, seemingly on its hind legs, never to fall forward as it moves from the east to the west. He used a whole stanza to do so because (a) it balances the work, and (b) he felt like it.

    In stanza #3, he describes himself as a mere mortal, spending his evening out with the stars instead of more mundane pursuits.

    Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. ;)
  3. PlaceofDis macrumors Core

    Jan 6, 2004
    he spends stanza two describing movements since he refers back to it in the third stanza by the reference of him barking along side.

    the 'poor underdog' is basically going to have an all nighter full of fun since the Overdog spends all night up in pose and moving. the underdog joining him plans to stay up all night too.

    the underdog is 'poor' since he is a mortal. and the overdog is immortal placed in the sky.

    at least this is what i've always gotten from the work. one of Frost's more straightforward poems imo.
  4. obeygiant macrumors 68040


    Jan 14, 2002
    totally cool

    Nice Poem.

    It sounds like its about stargazing. Watching the constellations, namely canis major, soar thru the heavens. He is just "an earth bound misfit" watching the "Overdog" glide by.
  5. Iscariot macrumors 68030


    Aug 16, 2007
    Sometimes... sometimes it's also.... a penis.
  6. Berlepsch macrumors 6502


    Oct 22, 2007
    Now that you say it, and after re-reading the poem, I have to agree. The whole poem is, to put it bluntly, quite obviously a masturbation fantasy put into verse. As we have many young readers here on MacRumors, I will only touch upon a few more innocent elements:

    At night the author lets out the one eyed beast, which "gives a leap in the east". Note the double metaphor with east=sunrise and west=sunset mirroring the stages of excitement in the process. The exploding orgasm of his idolized member described in the second stanza ("And never once drops / On his forefeet") is immediately countered with the more realistic assessment "I am poor underdog" at the beginning of the third stanza. Nevertheless, the author is determined to continue in his obsession as he promises "to-night I will bark" with his imaginary über-organ which "romps in the dark".

    I must say I am deeply worried at the thought that young students are confronted with such a vulgar piece of third-rate poetry.
  7. ribbonthecat macrumors regular

    May 23, 2006
    Chicago, IL
    Going to a Mac forum and asking for poetry analysis is like going to a poetry forum and asking for Mac advice.
  8. PlaceofDis macrumors Core

    Jan 6, 2004
    except that some of us do have degrees in english or are well versed individuals. or you might just want to see other's people's take on a piece of work...
  9. JNB macrumors 604


    Oct 7, 2004
    In a Hell predominately of my own making
    Besides, where else could you get a mix of poetry, penises, and masturbation fantasies? Certainly not a Windows forum. :D
  10. PlaceofDis macrumors Core

    Jan 6, 2004
    this is also true.
  11. Gelfin macrumors 68020


    Sep 18, 2001
    Denver, CO
    The point of the second stanza is, first, that the speaker is awake to observe this entire process. He is able to watch the "Overdog" leap from the east and dance across the whole sky before setting in the west. Second, the speaker is expressing a feeling of kindred spirit with the "Overdog." He, too, intends to romp, to dance all night without pausing to rest. The characteristics with which the speaker imbues this constellation are reflective of his own state of mind.

    On further examination, yes, I agree it would be quite easy to read something rather phallic into this poem, but if this is high school English homework, I'd probably leave that bit out. In college, depends on the professor. You might get a roll of the eyes or brownie points for mentioning penises.
  12. obeygiant macrumors 68040


    Jan 14, 2002
    totally cool
    We all only see what we want to see. :eek:
  13. Marble macrumors 6502a


    May 13, 2003
    Tucson, AZ
    Funny. I'm a sophomore again!
  14. rogermuc macrumors newbie

    Jan 1, 2014
    Canis major - As I see this poem

    When I first came upon this poem I had only four lines.
    I was searching on the internet for the word "underdog"
    and found in dictionaries:

    I'm a poor underdog
    But tonight I will bark
    With the great Overdog
    That romps through the dark.

    [from "Canis Major," Robert Frost, 1928]

    I didn't know Robert Frost and I didn't know Canis Major,
    but soon I found out that it was a poem.

    After I had read this poem I wrote in another forum:
    I'm wondering what R. Frost wanted to say.

    Then I found this forum and the views:
    One shouldn't overanalyse this poem, it's just a simple
    poem, and sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.

    Sometime later, I read the poem a second time
    with title and three stanzas set off clearly from each other.
    And while I was reading this short poem of the poor underdog
    looking up to the overdog (the star constellation
    Canis major) I suddenly see a man looking up
    at the stars at night, feeling how little he is
    on this planet Earth compared to the immense vastness
    of the universe and he feels something of the greatness
    of the cosmos and perhaps even of the maker of this wonder.

    My personal feeling - and everyone can see this poem as he likes.
    For some a cigar is a cigar. For others a litte poem can lead
    to great ideas.

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