Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Cow Worship

Parents Weekend at Earlham. We attended hardly any official functions. The only one I can recall, thinking back at the moment, is the Saturday morning opportunity to meet professors: Huge space in the Wellness Center. Coffee and eats in the middle. Tables set, circularly, on the periphery. Signs indicating division (Social Sciences, Humanities,...) and Department (English!, Physics, ...). Everyone in a bit of an early-morning daze. We arrived early and spoke first to some of the Earlham Parent Committee members who had sponsored the event. Then made some long chats with Nick's advisor and a couple other of his professors, all of whom have profound respect for him. We also got some useful information about a science requirement he has to fulfill for graduation. All this is preface to a poem. The English Lit folks had a basket full of bookmark-size poems. The one I picked up, and fell in love with, was Gerald Stern's Cow Worship. I knew it had to be on the web somewhere, but couldnt't get Google to cough it up -- Yahoo was the one that came through for me. So here it is. Read it twice throught, three times, and smile with me.

Cow Worship

I love the cows best when they are a few feet away
from my dining-room window and my pine floor,
when they reach into kiss me with their wet
mouths and their white noses.
I love them as they walk over garbage cans
and across cellar doors, over the sidewalk and through the metal chairs
and the birdseed.
-Let me reach out through the thin curtains
and feel the warm air of May.
It is the temperatures of the whole galaxy,
all the bright clouds and its clusters,
beasts and heroes,
glittering singers and isolated thinkers
at pasture.

by: Gerald Stern

From: 250 Poems: A Portable Anthology

Here's another from the same site:

The cow is of the bovine ilk,
One end is moo, the other milk.

by: Ogden Nash


Also recommended, this by the Irish poet, Medbh McGuckian:


A man will keep a horse for prestige,
But a woman ripens best underground.
He settles where the wind
Brings his whirling hat to rest,
And the wind decides which door is to be used.

Under the hip-roofed thatch,
The bed-wing is warmed by chimney breast;
On either side the keeping-holes
For his belongings, hers.

He says it's unlucky to widen the house,
And leaves the gateposts holding up the fairies.
He lays his lazy-beds and burns the river,
He builds turf-castles,
And sprigs the corn with apple-mint.

She spreads heather on the floor
And sifts the oatmeal ark for thin-bread farls:
All through the blue month
She tosses stones in basins to the sun,
And watches for the trout in the holy well.


Anonymous said...

i am actually writing my research paper on Gateposts. we have to write 5 pages analyzing a poem and i clicked on the link you have to the poem but it didn't work. does that link have any valuable information on the poem or what it means?

Jeff said...

It seems that link has died. I can't find another location for the site, and very little on the poem altogether. I'm sorry that I'm not able to help.