Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE COW AND THE ASS, by JANE TAYLOR

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Classic and Contemporary Poetry

THE COW AND THE ASS, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Beside [or, hard by] a green meadow a stream used to flow
Last Line: "I really believe that the fellow is right."
Subject(s): Animal Rights; Asses & Mules; Cows; Animal Abuse; Vivisection

Beside a green meadow a stream used to flow,
So clear, one might see the white pebbles below;
To this cooling brook the warm cattle would stray,
To stand in the shade on a hot summer's day.

A cow, quite oppressed by the heat of the sun,
Came here to refresh, as she often had done,
And standing quite still, stooping over the stream,
Was musing perhaps; or perhaps she might dream.

But soon a brown ass, of respectable look,
Came trotting up also, to taste of the brook,
And to nibble a few of the daisies and grass:
"How d'ye do?" said the cow; "How d'ye do?" said the ass.

"Take a seat," said the cow, gently waiving her hand;
"By no means, dear madam," said he, "while you stand."
Then stooping to drink, with a complaisant bow,
"Ma'am, your health," said the ass:—"Thank you, sir," said the cow.

When a few of these compliments more had been passed,
They laid themselves down on the herbage at last;
And waiting politely (as gentlemen must),
The ass held his tongue, that the cow might speak first.

Then, with a deep sigh, she directly began,
"Don't you think, Mr. Ass, we are injured by man?
'Tis a subject which lies with a weight on my mind:
We really are greatly oppressed by mankind.

"Pray what is the reason (I see none at all)
That I always must go when Jane chooses to call?
Whatever I'm doing ('tis certainly hard)
I'm forced to leave off, to be milked in the yard.

"I've no will of my own, but must do as they please,
And give them my milk to make butter and cheese;
Sometimes I endeavour to kick down the pail,
Or give her a box on the ear with my tail."

"But, Ma'am," said the ass, "not presuming to teach—
Oh dear, I beg pardon—pray finish your speech;
Excuse my mistake," said the complaisant swain,
"Go on, and I'll not interrupt you again."

"Why, sir, I was just then about to observe,
Those hard-hearted tyrants no longer I'll serve;
But leave them for ever to do as they please,
And look somewhere else for their butter and cheese."

Ass waited a moment, his answer to scan,
And then, "Not presuming to teach," he began,
"Permit me to say, since my thoughts you invite,
I always saw things in a different light.

"That you afford man an important supply,
No ass in his senses would ever deny:
But then, in return, 'tis but fair to allow,
They are of some service to you, Mistress Cow.

" 'Tis their pleasant meadow in which you repose,
And they find you a shelter from wintery snows.
For comforts like these, we're indebted to man;
And for him, in return, should do all that we can."

The cow, upon this, cast her eyes on the grass,
Not pleased to be schooled in this way by an ass:
"Yet," said she to herself, "though he's not very bright,
I really believe that the fellow is right."

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