The Cow Path

One day through the primeval wood
a calf walked home as good calves should;
But made a trail all bent askew,
A crooked path as all calves do...

The trail was taken up the very next day
By a lame dog that passed that way;
And then a wise bell weather sheep
Pursued that trail o'er hill and steep,
And drew the flock behind him, too
As good Bell Weather always do,
And from that day, o'er hill and glade
Through these old weeds 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..."

The forest path became a lane
That bent and turned and turned again;
The 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...

The years past on it swiftness fleet,
The road became a village street;
And this before men were aware,
A city's crowded thoroughfare...

Each day a hundred thousand bout
Followed this zigzagging 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 croaked way,
And last one hundred year a day;
For this such reverence was lent
To a well-established precedent.

For men are prone to go it blind
Along the calf path of the mind,
And work away from sun to sun
To do what other men have done.
They follow in the beaten track
And in and out, 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!

--Sam Water Foss