Life Lessons

Black, Black Dog

Felix Dennis
August 3, 2003
Mandalay, Mustique
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Who has loosed the black, black dog,
    This sentinel of gloom,
This hound who makes no sound?
    How came he in this room?

Who has whelped a black, black dog
    That fears no shuttered door;
With death upon his breath,
    Fresh blood upon his paw?

Who has called this black, black dog
    My sanity to seize,
Whose stare is black despair,
    Who robs me of my ease?

Who shall leash the black, black dog,
    So baleful and malign?
What pain might choke his chain?
   Whose dog is this but mine.

“The black dog I hope always to resist, and in time to drive... When I rise my breakfast is solitary, the black dog waits to share it...  Night comes at last, and some hours of restlessness and confusion bring me again to a day of solitude.  What shall exclude the black dog from a habitation like this” — Samuel Johnson in a letter to Mrs. Thrale in 1783.  Johnson died the next year.  Winston Churchill also used the phrase to describe his own torment when in the grip of melancholia and depression.