The Single Hound

May 5, 2011

"The Single Hound" Bruce Floyd

Below you will find the poem with the phrase “single hound” in it. It’s a metaphor for self-consciousness, that creature, entity, phenomenon (you call it, Doc) that attends, always there, always faithful, always excruciatingly lonely, the faithful creature attending to the soul. Now is not the time, I suppose, to quibble over the semantics of “self-consciousness” and “soul.” It’s enough to say that a human being has self-consciousness, from which all that is human (and it runs the gamut) comes. In this poem, and I agree with Dickinson, the haunting thing about self-consciousness is its ineluctable reminder of how singular each of us is. We are alone in this bewildering interval between our birth and our death. We are, as Rank and Kierkegaard, and Becker, et. al., knew “condemned” to loneliness, locked away, as Miss Emily says in another poem, that house without doors.

This Consciousness that is aware
Of Neighbors and the Sun
Will be the one aware of Death
And that itself alone

Is traversing the interval
Experience between
And most profound experiment
Appointed unto Men —

How adequate unto itself
Its properties shall be
Itself unto itself and none
Shall make discovery.

Adventure most unto itself
The Soul condemned to be —
Attended by a single Hound
Its own identity.



  1. I have a tin ear for poetry, and for Emily Dickinson in particular. So I am moved to find that, with this commentary, the poem becomes very meaningful. (It helps me to read it aloud.) Thank you.

  2. I appreciate the poem ‘The Single Hound’ and think it could stand alone without the intoductory commentary.

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