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Cow Poems

Table of Contents

Cow Poems
Cows in a Field
by Heinrich von Zügel
  1. When Milking-Time is Done by Charles G. D. Roberts
  2. Driving Home the Cows by Kate Putnam Osgood
  3. Bringing Home the Cows by Charles G. D. Roberts
  4. The Cow Pasture by Charles G. D. Roberts
  5. Where the Cattle Come to Drink by Charles G. D. Roberts
  6. The Cow in Apple Time by Robert Frost
  7. The Outlaw by Charles Badger Clark
  8. Calling the Cows by Hannah Augusta Moore
  9. The Cow and The Pig and The Hen by A. H. Upham
  10. The Calf-Path by Sam Walter Foss
  11. The Cow-Bells by John Townsend Trowbridge
  12. The Drovers by John Greenleaf Whittier
  13. Short Cow Poems for Children

  14. Thank You, Pretty Cow by Jane Taylor
  15. The Breakfast Song by Emilie Poulsson
  16. The Cow by Robert Louis Stevenson
  17. Milking Time by Elizabeth Madox Roberts

All the good ideas I ever had came to me while I was milking a cow.

– Grant Wood, American Painter
  1. When Milking-Time is Done

    When Milking Time is Done
    Ferme à Venoix
    by Christian Skredswig
    by Sir Charles George Douglas Roberts

    When milking-time is done, and over all
    This quiet Canadian inland forest home
    And wide rough pasture-lots the shadows come,
    And dews, with peace and twilight voices, fall,
    From moss-cooled watering-trough to foddered stall
    The tired plough-horses turn,—the barnyard loam
    Soft to their feet,—and in the sky's pale dome
    Like resonant chords the swooping night-jars call.

    The frogs, cool-fluting ministers of dream,
    Make shrill the slow brook's borders; pasture bars
    Down clatter, and the cattle wander through,—
    Vague shapes amid the thickets; gleam by gleam
    Above the wet grey wilds emerge the stars,
    And through the dusk the farmstead fades from view.

  2. Driving Home the Cows

    The great tears sprang to their meeting eyes;
    For the heart must speak when the lips are dumb,

    – Kate Putnam Osgood
    Driving Home the Cows
    by Kate Putnam Osgood

    Out of the clover and blue-eyed grass
    He turned them into the river lane;
    One after another he let them pass,
    Then fastened the meadow bars again.

    Under the willows and over the hill,
    He patiently followed their sober pace;
    The merry whistle for once was still,
    And something shadowed the sunny face.

    Only a boy! and his father had said
    He never could let his youngest go:
    Two already were lying dead,
    Under the feet of the trampling foe. ...

    But after the evening work was done,
    And the frogs were loud in the meadow-swamp,
    Over his shoulder he slung his gun,
    And stealthily followed the footpath damp.

    Across the clover, and through the wheat,
    With resolute heart and purpose grim:
    Though the dew was on his hurrying feet,
    And the blind bat's flitting startled him.

    Thrice since then had the lanes been white,
    And the orchards sweet with apple-bloom;
    And now, when the cows came back at night,
    The feeble father drove them home.

    For news had come to the lonely farm
    That three were lying where two had lain;
    And the old man's tremulous, palsied arm
    Could never lean on a son's again.

    The summer day grew cool and late:
    He went for the cows when the work was done;
    But down the lane, as he opened the gate,
    He saw them coming one by one:

    Brindle, Ebony, Speckle, and Bess,
    Shaking their horns in the evening wind;
    Cropping the buttercups out of the grass,
    But who was it following close behind?

    Loosely swung in the idle air
    The empty sleeve of army blue;
    And worn and pale, from the crisping hair,
    Looked out a face that the father knew.

    For close-barred prisons will sometimes yawn,
    And yield their dead unto life again;
    And the day that comes with a cloudy dawn,
    In golden glory at last may wane.

    The great tears sprang to their meeting eyes;
    For the heart must speak when the lips are dumb,
    And under the silent evening skies
    Together they followed the cattle home.

  3. Bringing Home the Cows

    by Sir Charles George Douglas Roberts

    When potatoes were in blossom,
    When the new hay filled the mows,
    Sweet the paths we trod together,
    Bringing home the cows.

    What a purple kissed the pasture,
    Kissed and blessed the alder-boughs,
    As we wandered slow at sundown,
    Bringing home the cows!

    How the far-off hills were gilded
    With the light that dream allows.
    As we built our hopes beyond them,
    Bringing home the cows!

    How our eyes were bright with visions,
    What a meaning wreathed our brows,
    As we watched the cranes, and lingered,
    Bringing home the cows!

    Past the years, and through the distance,
    Throbs the memory of our vows.
    Oh, that we again were children,
    Bringing home the cows!

  4. The Cow Pasture

    The Cow Pasture
    Near Liverpool, New South Wales
    by William Piguenit
    by Sir Charles George Douglas Roberts

    I see the harsh, wind-ridden, eastward hill,
    By the red cattle pastured, blanched with dew;
    The small, mossed hillocks where the clay gets through;
    The grey webs woven on milkweed tops at will.
    The sparse, pale grasses flicker, and are still.
    The empty flats yearn seaward. All the view
    Is naked to the horizon's utmost blue;
    And the bleak spaces stir me with strange thrill.

    Not in perfection dwells the subtler power
    To pierce our mean content, but rather works
    Through incompletion, and the need that irks, —
    Not in the flower, but effort toward the flower.
    When the want stirs, when the soul's cravings urge,
    The strong earth strengthens, and the clean heavens purge.

  5. The Cow in Apple Time

    by Robert Frost

    Something inspires the only cow of late
    To make no more of a wall than an open gate,
    And think no more of wall-builders than fools.
    Her face is flecked with pomace and she drools
    A cider syrup. Having tasted fruit,
    She scorns a pasture withering to the root.
    She runs from tree to tree where lie and sweeten
    The windfalls spiked with stubble and worm-eaten.
    She leaves them bitten when she has to fly.
    She bellows on a knoll against the sky.
    Her udder shrivels and the milk goes dry.

  6. Where the Cattle Come to Drink

    Where the Cattle Come to Drink
    Cattle Watering Under an Oak Tree
    by Thaddeus Welch
    by Sir Charles George Douglas Roberts

    At evening, where the cattle come to drink,
    Cool are the long marsh-grasses, dewy cool
    The alder thickets, and the shallow pool,
    And the brown clay about the trodden brink.
    The pensive afterthoughts of sundown sink
    Over the patient acres given to peace;
    The homely cries and farmstead noises cease,
    And the worn day relaxes, link by link.

    A lesson that the open heart may read
    Breathes in this mild benignity of air,
    These dear, familiar savours of the soil,—
    A lesson of the calm of humble creed,
    The simple dignity of common toil,
    And the plain wisdom of unspoken prayer.

  7. The Outlaw

    The Outlaw
    The Troublemaker
    by William Robinson Leigh
    by Charles Badger Clark

    When my rope takes hold on a two-year-old,
    By the foot or the neck or the horn,
    He kin plunge and fight till his eyes go white
    But I'll throw him as sure as you're born.
    Though the taut ropes sing like a banjo string
    And the latigoes creak and strain,
    Yet I got no fear of an outlaw steer
    And I'll tumble him on the plain.

    For a man is a man, but a steer is a beast,
    And the man is the boss of the herd,
    And each of the bunch, from the biggest to least,
    Must come down when he says the word.

    When my leg swings 'cross on an outlaw hawse
    And my spurs clinch into his hide,
    He kin r'ar and pitch over hill and ditch,
    But wherever he goes I'll ride.
    Let 'im spin and flop like a crazy top
    Or flit like a wind-whipped smoke,
    But he'll know the feel of my rowelled heel
    Till he's happy to own he's broke.

    For a man is a man and a hawse is a brute,
    And the hawse may be prince of his clan
    But he'll bow to the bit and the steel-shod boot
    And own that his boss is the man.

    When the devil at rest underneath my vest
    Gets up and begins to paw
    And my hot tongue strains at its bridle reins,
    Then I tackle the real outlaw.
    When I get plumb riled and my sense goes wild
    And my temper is fractious growed,
    If he'll hump his neck just a triflin' speck,
    Then it's dollars to dimes I'm throwed.

    For a man is a man, but he's partly a beast.
    He kin brag till he makes you deaf,
    But the one lone brute, from the west to the east,
    That he kaint quite break is himse'f.

  8. Calling the Cows

    by Hannah Augusta Moore

    'T was a vision of the morning,
    'T was a vision of the mist,
    Ere the purple hills of dawning
    By the sun's first rays were kissed.

    Up floated, through gray shadows,
    To my chamber's silent gloom.
    The tuneful voice of Gracie—
    Its music filled my room.

    It called me from my roving
    In the land of pleasant dreams,
    The land of happy loving,
    By soft, untroubled streams.

    Fair as an Easter lily,
    And beautiful and tall,
    Stood Gracie—from the shadows
    Making her winsome call.

    "Soh, Fan! soh, Fan! soh, Pinkie!
    Soh, Pinkie! and soh, Fan!"
    Paint ye a morning picture
    More spirit-like who can!

    The breathings of the river
    To phantom shapes had grown;
    They curled about the mountain,
    They through the vale were blown.

    Lightly they clung to Gracie,
    Standing on dew-drops there;
    Lightly they veiled her features
    And flowing golden hair.

    Was it a mortal maiden,
    Thus, half-revealed, that stood,
    On an oread of the mountain,
    Or a dryad of the wood?

    Or, from the darkling river
    Had a fair naiad sprung,
    Wearing the form of Gracie,
    With Gracie's silver tongue?

    "Soh, Fan! soh, Fan! soh, Pinkie!
    Soh, Pinkie! and soh, Fan!"
    Paint ye a morning picture
    More spirit-like who can.

  9. The Cow and The Pig and The Hen

    by A. H. Upham

    The farmer smiled as he passed them by—
    The cow and the pig and the hen;
    For the price of wheat had gone sky-high,
    And the cow and the pig and the hen
    They ate up grain he could sell at the mill,
    They needed his care when nights were chill,
    He swore of them all he'd had his fill—
    The cow and the pig and the hen.

    These barnyard cattle had had their day,
    The cow and the pig and the hen.
    He could get thirty bones for a ton of hay—
    No need for the cow or the hen.
    He never would milk another cow,
    He hated the sight of a grunting sow,
    And raising chickens was work for the frau,
    Good-bye to the cow and the hen.

    They gave no heed to his jeer or frown,
    The cow and the pig and the hen,
    Whatever goes up, said they, comes down,
    The wise old cow and the hen.
    The hen laid eggs the winter thru,
    The cow gave milk and the piggy grew,
    But hay dropped down from thirty to two—
    Oh, the cow and the pig and the hen!

    Now he sits and sighs, as he counts the cost,
    For the cow and the pig and the hen.
    He almost cries for the milk he's lost,
    The cow and the pig and the hen.
    He'd tend them gladly in mud and rain,
    And scrap his acres of hay and grain,
    If he only could buy them back again,
    The cow and the pig and the hen.

  10. The Calf-Path

    by Sam Walter Foss


    One day through the primeval wood
    A calf walked home as good calves should;

    But made a trail all bent askew,
    A crooked trail as all calves do.

    Since then three hundred years have fled,
    And I infer the calf is dead.


    But still he left behind his trail,
    And thereby hangs my moral tale.

    The trail was taken up next day
    By a lone dog that passed that way;

    And then a wise bell-wether sheep
    Pursued the trail o'er vale and steep,

    And drew the flock behind him, too,
    As good bell-wethers always do.

    And from that day, o'er hill and glade,
    Through those old woods a path was made.


    And many men wound in and out,
    And dodged and turned and bent about,

    And uttered words of righteous wrath
    Because 'twas such a crooked path;

    But still they followed—do not laugh—
    The first migrations of that calf,

    And through this winding wood-way stalked
    Because he wobbled when he walked.


    This forest path became a lane,
    That bent and turned and turned again;

    This crooked lane became a road,
    Where many a poor horse with his load

    Toiled on beneath the burning sun,
    And travelled some three miles in one.

    And thus a century and a half
    They trod the footsteps of that calf.


    The years passed on in swiftness fleet.
    The road became a village street;

    And this, before men were aware,
    A city's crowded thoroughfare.

    And soon the central street was this
    Of a renowned metropolis;

    And men two centuries and a half
    Trod in the footsteps of that calf.


    Each day a hundred thousand rout
    Followed this zigzag calf about

    And o'er his crooked journey went
    The traffic of a continent.

    A hundred thousand men were led
    By one calf near three centuries dead.

    They followed still his crooked way,
    And lost one hundred years a day;

    For thus such reverence is lent
    To well-established precedent.


    A moral lesson this might teach
    Were I ordained and called to preach;

    For men are prone to go it blind
    Along the calf-paths of the mind,

    And work away from sun to sun
    To do what other men have done.

    They follow in the beaten track,
    And out and in, and forth and back,

    And still their devious course pursue,
    To keep the path that others do.

    They keep the path a sacred groove,
    Along which all their lives they move;

    But how the wise old wood-gods laugh,
    Who saw the first primeval calf.

    Ah, many things this tale might teach—
    But I am not ordained to preach.

  11. The Cow-Bells

    by John Trowbridge

    One—in the distance, when the star came out
    Over the dark green woods upon the hill-
    One bell's low tinkle, and the farmer's shout,
    While in the pauses sang the whip-poor-will.

    Two, three, and more. She's coming now; but wait!
    She stops. There's clover in yon tufts of fern.
    Lightfoot! Coo-coo! Come down; the milking's late.
    Robert, run up beyond the lane's quick turn.

    Two little arms stretch out to clasp a cup
    Of gentle Lightfoot's milk. "Come down, Coo-coo!
    The farmer, tired with haying, wants to sup."
    Hark! on the silent air the bell peals out anew.

    There's silence now. She's at the hillside spring,
    Drinking with liquid, vacant eyes, her fill;
    While upward flits on dreamy, bat-like wing
    The somber, brooding, plaintive whip-poor-will.

    Coo-coo! she's coming; hear her lulling bell!
    Or does the farmer strike his empty glass
    With pewter spoon. Perhaps in yonder dell
    The bell is drowned amid the meadow's grass.

    She's in her yard at last; the bell is still,
    And she has done her peaceful work. Ah! me,
    What if some higher spirits wait to fill
    Their earthly longings from humanity!

  12. The Drovers

    by John Greenleaf Whittier

    Through heat and cold, and shower and sun,
    Still onward cheerly driving!
    There's life alone in duty done,
    And rest alone in striving.
    But see! the day is closing cool,
    The woods are dim before us;
    The white fog of the wayside pool
    Is creeping slowly o'er us.

    The night is falling, comrades mine,
    Our footsore beasts are weary,
    And through yon elms the tavern sign
    Looks out upon us cheery.
    The landlord beckons from his door,
    His beechen fire is glowing;
    These ample barns, with feed in store,
    Are filled to overflowing.

    From many a valley frowned across
    By brows of rugged mountains;
    From hillsides where, through spongy moss,
    Gush out the river fountains;
    From quiet farm-fields, green and low,
    And bright with blooming clover;
    From vales of corn the wandering crow
    No richer hovers over;

    Day after day our way has been
    O'er many a hill and hollow;
    By lake and stream, by wood and glen,
    Our stately drove we follow.
    Through dust-clouds rising thick and dun,
    As smoke of battle o'er us,
    Their white horns glisten in the sun,
    Like plumes and crests before us.

    We see them slowly climb the hill,
    As slow behind it sinking;
    Or, thronging close, from roadside rill,
    Or sunny lakelet, drinking.
    Now crowding in the narrow road,
    In thick and struggling masses,
    They glare upon the teamster's load,
    Or rattling coach that passes.

    Anon, with toss of horn and tail,
    And paw of hoof, and bellow,
    They leap some farmer's broken pale,
    O'er meadow-close or fallow.
    Forth comes the startled goodman; forth
    Wife, children, house-dog, sally,
    Till once more on their dusty path
    The baffled truants rally.

    We drive no starvelings, scraggy grown,
    Loose-legged, and ribbed and bony,
    Like those who grind their noses down
    On pastures bare and stony—
    Lank oxen, rough as Indian dogs,
    And cows too lean for shadows,
    Disputing feebly with the frogs
    The crop of saw-grass meadows!

    In our good drove, so sleek and fair,
    No bones of leanness rattle;
    No tottering hide-bound ghosts are there,
    Or Pharaoh's evil cattle.
    Each stately beeve bespeaks the hand
    That fed him unrepining;
    The fatness of a goodly land
    In each dun hide is shining.

    We've sought them where, in warmest nooks,
    The freshest feed is growing,
    By sweetest springs and clearest brooks
    Through honeysuckle flowing;
    Wherever hillsides, sloping south,
    Are bright with early grasses,
    Or, tracking green the lowland's drouth,
    The mountain streamlet passes.

    But now the day is closing cool,
    The woods are dim before us,
    The white fog of the wayside pool
    Is creeping slowly o'er us.
    The cricket to the frog's bassoon
    His shrillest time is keeping;
    The sickle of yon setting moon
    The meadow-mist is reaping.

    The night is falling, comrades mine,
    Our footsore beasts are weary,
    And through yon elms the tavern sign
    Looks out upon us cheery.
    To-morrow, eastward with our charge
    We'll go to meet the dawning,
    Ere yet the pines of Kéarsarge
    Have seen the sun of morning.

    When snow-flakes o'er the frozen earth,
    Instead of birds, are flitting;
    When children throng the glowing hearth,
    And quiet wives are knitting;
    While in the fire-light strong and clear
    Young eyes of pleasure glisten,
    To tales of all we see and hear
    The ears of home shall listen.

    By many a Northern lake and hill,
    From many a mountain pasture,
    Shall Fancy play the Drover still,
    And speed the long night faster.
    Then let us on, through shower and sun,
    And heat and cold, be driving;
    There's life alone in duty done,
    And rest alone in striving.

  13. Short Cow Poems for Children

  14. The Cow

    by Ann Taylor

    Thank you, pretty cow, that made
    Pleasant milk to soak my bread,
    Every day, and every night,
    Warm, and fresh, and sweet, and white.

    Do not chew the hemlock rank,
    Growing on the weedy bank;
    But the yellow cowslips eat,
    They will make it very sweet.

    Where the purple violet grows,
    Where the bubbling water flows,
    Where the grass is fresh and fine,
    Pretty cow, go there and dine.

  15. The Breakfast Song

    by Emilie Poulsson

    At five o'clock he milks the cow,
    The busy farmer's man.
    At six o'clock he strains the milk
    And pours it in the can.

    At seven o'clock the milkman's horse
    Must go to town—"get up!"
    At eight o'clock Nurse Karen pours
    The milk in Baby's cup.

    At five o'clock the Baby sleeps
    As sound as sound can be.
    At six o'clock he laughs and shouts,
    So wide awake is he.

    At seven o'clock he's in his bath,
    At eight o'clock he's dressed
    Just when the milk is ready, too,
    So you can guess the rest.

  16. The Cow

    by Robert Louis Stevenson

    The friendly cow all red and white
    I love with all my heart:
    She gives me cream with all her might,
    To eat with apple-tart.

    She wanders lowing here and there,
    And yet she cannot stray,
    All in the pleasant open air,
    The pleasant light of day;

    And blown by all the winds that pass
    And wet with all the showers,
    She walks among the meadow grass
    And eats the meadow flowers.

  17. Milking Time

    by Elizabeth Madox Roberts

    When supper time is almost come,
    But not quite here, I cannot wait,
    And so I take my china mug
    And go down by the milking gate.

    The cow is always eating shucks
    And spilling off the little silk.
    Her purple eyes are big and soft-
    She always smells like milk.

    And Father takes my mug from me,
    And then he makes the stream come out.
    I see it going in my mug
    And foaming all about.

    And when it's piling very high,
    And when some little streams commence
    To run and drip along the sides,
    He hands it to me through the fence.

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