As up the Nile I sailed a dhow
I ruminated on the cow.
It’s not a creature much admired
Few poets have found themselves inspired
To pen a glowing line or four
About the bovine beast’s allure.
Few hearts will flutter as it passes
Save those in those without their glasses
Who, mistaking the quadruped on its course,
Confuse it with the haughty horse.
Now there’s an animal of high repute
Clearly, though, an overrated brute.
It’s wont to prance and strut about
And snort, disdainful, through its snout,
As if the world owed it a living
For all the thrills it thinks its giving.
But let me set a few things right,
The lordly equine’s none too bright.
For instance, round an oval track,
A gaudy person on its back,
It runs like mad in certain pain
A pointless route from here to here again
And for this effort what’s its pay?
A sugar cube and a hunk of hay
While its owner may apply his take
To a hearty meal and a piece of cake.
And another thing the horse will do
Without so much as a cry or hue
Is pull a coach in a long parade
While it’s thirty seven* in the shade.
*If for Celsius you still say nix,
In Fahrenheit, it’s ninety eight point six
On the other hand, the smarter cow
Such silliness would not allow.
It spends its days in soft repose
With clover sweet between its toes.
Its greatest effort, besides some mooing,
Is to move its mouth in the act of chewing,
Which action it then must follow
With the strain that’s needed for a swallow.
In sunny fields it grows more wise
With time to muse and philosophize.
It does not strut and cannot prance
And rarely joins a peasant dance.
It never bites more than it can chew
And oft will take an hour or two
Of ease right after its ingestion
That is a clear aid to digestion.
A wise approach since its usual comestible
Ranks low on the list of things digestible,
And in this the cow shows education
The key lesson of which is slow mastication
In meadows green it spends its day,
Then strolls to the barn to pay its way.
Not much for one of cowish ilk,
The rent is just a pail of milk.
So who would doubt the cow’d be best
In any intelligence-quotient test.
To follow grammar to the letter
I should say the cow’d be better.
And yet despite the brilliance of the cow
Despite its intellectual-looking brow,
Despite the music of its moo,
Few will give the beast its due.
They’d rather exaggerate and brag
About the exploits of some nag
Whose only role, all myths aside
Was to give some human type a ride.
In almost every market square
You’ll find a bronze horse standing there
But the only reason it’s on its feet
Is to give some general a lofty seat.
It’s a role a cow would soon eschew
That of model for the town statue
Yet if they’d offer the part just once or twice
To a deserving Jersey it might be nice.
For cows, you know, are people, too,
They’ve got feelings, like me and you,
Though generally they keep them quiet
I think it’s something in their diet.
So next you catch the cerebral gaze
Of a Guernsey pausing in its graze
Imagine how this worthy ruminant
Might look supporting General Grant.