There are as many definitions of poetry as there are poets. Wordsworth defined poetry as “the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings;” Emily Dickinson said, “If I read a book and it makes my body so cold no fire ever can warm me, I know that is poetry;” and Dylan Thomas defined poetry this way: “Poetry is what makes me laugh or cry or yawn, what makes my toenails twinkle, what makes me want to do this or that or nothing.”
My mother was a great lover of poetry. She wrote her own, and enjoyed reading a wide variety of authors. As a family – at least, my mom, my daughter, and I – liked to read poetry aloud.
I am going to share a poem that my mother loved, and that I think is clever and funny and, at the same time, illustrates a truth. It is rather old fashioned – the author died in 1911, so I suppose it is bound to be that way! It is titled, The Calf Path. The author, Sam Walter Foss, wrote another poem that is quite well known, titled A House By The Side Of The Road, which may be more familiar to you.
In the comments, please feel free to share your favorite poems/poets.
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.
And then a wise bell-wether sheep,
Pursued the trail o’er vale and steep;
And from that day, o’er hill and glade.
Through those old woods a path was made.
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 crooked lane became a road,
Where many a poor horse with his load,
Toiled on beneath the burning sun,
And traveled some three miles in one.
And thus a century and a half,
They trod the footsteps of that calf.
And this, before men were aware,
A city’s crowded thoroughfare;
And soon the central street was this,
Of a renowned metropolis;
Each day a hundred thousand rout,
Followed the 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.
For thus such reverence is lent,
To well established precedent.
A moral lesson this might teach,
Were I ordained and called to preach;
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.
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.
Knowing the likes of the group here, perhaps another poem (about cats, rather than calves!) is more to your liking: