The Cow in American Poetry

OK,  let’s get a mooooooooove on.

For some time I have had a general interest in short poems about species other than ours.  Ogden Nash is the premier example in our culture and language over the past century.

And I have, for some reason, had a special interest in poem about cows.  This may have to do with my duties on the farm in Kansas looking after our small herd.  I also “fatted” a calf to care for and “fatten” as a 4H (our very small group was known as the “Happy Hustlers”–and, yeah,  I know, these were the days of relative innocence)  project which led to its being shown at the County Fair.

Also I gathered from my study of literature that cows were often venerated in ancient cultures.  For example, when Homer in “The Iliad” referred to Zeus’s consort Hera as “ox-eyed,”  he was paying her a high compliment.

I have in my most recent posting gotten a comment from Tammy Stephens, in which she includes a poem by Frost, “The Cow in Apple Time,”  which I was unfamiliar with and was very pleased to know (of) it.

Disclaimer:  I wrote a while back quite a few posts about poetry/verse, and part of that was to share with my readers some of favorite cow poems.  But I suppose most did not pay attention and some of you now didn’t get into that kind of stuff.  But let’s start again,  OK?

Back to Ogden Nash.  His poem “The Cow” is short enough to be quickly memorized:

The cow is of the bovine ilk;

One end is moo, the other milk.

Most of you probably remember Gary Larson “Far Side” cartoons.  He is a keeper.  His nearest equivalent in the line of prose writers of columns would probably be Dave Barry of “The Miami Herald.”

In the days before the Chik-Fil-A TV commercials,  Larson had fun and gave us guffaws with his frequent use of animal characters.   One about cow culture you may remember appeared in the May 8, 1994, newspaper.  And here it is.  A cow is standing in what is obviously a classroom and near a bookshelf.  Here is her poem as read to her nine classmates:


The distant hills call to me.

Their rolling waves seduce my heart.

Oh, how I want to graze in their lush valleys.

Oh,  how I want to run down their green slopes.

Alas, I cannot.

Damn the electric fence!

Damn the electric fence!

Thank you.



10 Responses to “The Cow in American Poetry”

  1. Tammy Stephens Says:

    You are a hoot! Great work.

  2. Marena Groll Says:

    Best of Cows

  3. Frank B Maness,Jr. Says:

    I like Xfriend’s take on a electric fence as being a fast way to learn the electric slide———–Electric Leason+ It’s not a good idea to take a leak on a electric fence reguardless how you look at it.

  4. Forest Crump Says:

    Purple Cow – by Gelett Burgess

    I never saw a purple cow;
    I never hope to see one;
    but I can tell you anyhow;
    I’d rather see than be one!

    I don’t know why but this poem cracked me up as a kid.

  5. Tuckerman Says:

    cool pics

  6. Roscigno Says:

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  9. Miyasato Says:

    cool pics

  10. Eye Says:

    Great post! Thanks…

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