I really loved this clip of Jimmy Stewart on Johnny Carson back in 1981. For those of you who aren’t aware, Jimmy Stewart was an avid poetry writer and for this occasion, he wrote a poem about his dog Beau that had just recently died. It starts out pretty funny, but then gets a serious overlay as you can hear him start referring to Beau in a past tense. Jimmy then gets fairly emotional at the end and even gets Johnny a little teary.
If you just want to read the poem, here it is:
Beau by Jimmy Stewart
He never came to me when I would call unless I had a tennis ball–or he felt like it.
But mostly, he didn’t come at all.
When he was young, he never learned to heel, or sit, or stay–he did things his way.
Discipline was not his bag, but when you were with him things sure didn’t drag.
He’d dig up a rose bush just to spite me and when I’d grab him, he’d turn bite me.
He bit lots of folks from day to day–the delivery boy was his favorite prey.
The gas man wouldn’t read our meter. He said we owned a real man-eater.
He set the house on fire, but the story’s long to tell.
Suffice to say that he survived and the house survived as well.
And on evening walks–and Gloria took him, he was always first out the door,
The old one and I brought up the rear because our bones were sore.
And he’d charge up the street with mom hanging on–what a beautiful pair they were.
And if it was still light and the tourists were out, they created a bit of a stir.
But every once in a while, he’d stop in his tracks and with a frown on his face, look around.
It was just to make sure that the old one was there to follow him where he was bound.
We’re early to bedders in our house, I guess I’m the first to retire,
And as I’d leave the room, he’d look at me and get up from his place by the fire.
He knew where the tennis balls were upstairs and I’d give him one for a while
And he’d push it under the bed with his nose and I’d dig it out with a smile
But before very long, he’d tire the ball and he’d be asleep in his corner in no time at all.
And there were nights when I’d feel him climb upon our bed and lie between us and I’d pat his head.
And there were nights when I’d feel his stare and I’d wake up and he’d be sitting there,
And I’d reach out to stroke his hair and sometimes I’d feel him sigh and I think I know the reason why.
He’d wake up at night and he would have this fear,
Of the dark, of life, of lots of things and he’d be glad to have me near.
And now he’s dead
And there are nights when I think I feel him climb upon our bed and lie between us and I pat his head.
And there are nights when I think I feel that stare and I reach out my hand to stroke his hair
And he’s not there.
Oh how I wish that wasn’t so, I’ll always love a dog named Beau.