Dear CR: the Dog of Conscience. That reading fits very well. Conscience will keep digging up memories of one's sins. (One of the goals of psychotherapy is to ameliorate the sadism of the superego -- emotionally disturbed people, like combat veterans who have fallen into illness because of what they were called upon to do, often have superegos that tear them to pieces unmercifully. The conscience can be a cruel entity that overdoes guilt to the point where the personality may succumb to such self-hatred that suicide ensues.)

However, sociopaths by definition suffer no such pangs. I never saw moral lassitude in the passage 'Past the Isle of Dogs," but I do believe your interpretation is a fitting one. The song then becomes a meaningless self-entertainment, chilling in its hollowness. When I read the passage in the way you suggest, the song produces a shudder.

Now where is the poem's narrator in all this? It seems he is pointing the finger at the amoral who feel no guilt and saying Tsk Tsk, rather than including himself in their number. What do you think? N always seems to me to feel guilty in a rather nonspecific manner.


CR wrote:

'Oh keep the Dog far hence, that's friend to men,  
'Or with his nails he'll dig it up again!
"the Dog" (with a capital D) could easily be an allegorical representation
of Conscience -- otherwise "friend to men", but not so in these matters ;) 
The graver aspect, however, of setting aside the voice of Conscience/Dog
is metaphorically brought to the fore when, "Past the Isle of Dogs"
-- divested of moral scruples  --  humans are reduced to
no better than drifting barges and logs of wood:
The barges drift
With the turning tide
Red sails
To leeward, swing on the heavy spar.
The barges wash
Drifting logs
Down Greenwich reach
Past the Isle of Dogs.
    Weialala leia
Well, just a reading of sorts :)

Marcia Karp <[log in to unmask]> wrote:  
What is so chilling in Eliot's use of the lines is that there is menace, but no betrayal, in a wolf's, a foe's, digging up buried men, but that a dog, a friend,
would is horrifying.

Ready for the edge of your seat?
Check out tonight's top picks on Yahoo! TV.

Make every IM count. Download Messenger and join the iím Initiative now. Itís free.