Posted: March 24th, 2011 | Filed under: life | Tags: | 9 Comments »

The Calf Path
Sam Walter Foss (1896)

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 calves all 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 bellwether sheep
pursued the trail o’er vale and steep
and drew the flock behind him, too
as good bellwethers always do.
And from that day, o’er hill and glade,
through these 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.
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 traveled 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.
A hundred thousand men were led
by one calf near three centuries dead.
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!



9 Comments on “think”

  1. 1 Steph said at 10:36 am on March 24th, 2011:

    A lovely, well written poem that certainly gives reason for pause. In one way or another we are all guilty of "going with the flow" or "following the crowd" without giving it much thought. On occasion, when we do explore a reason, we find that had we known the true history of our course (of those gone before us), we would have never chosen that path. And then other times we find the path we are on to be more meaningful and worthwhile than we had ever suspected.

    I'm curious what your inspiration was for posting the poem.

  2. 2 Serena Woods said at 10:40 am on March 24th, 2011:

    I love poetry and I love things that make you think. 🙂

  3. 3 Rayna said at 10:54 am on March 24th, 2011:

    And this is why I love you!! You are a deeply intelligent woman.

  4. 4 B.C. said at 10:59 am on March 24th, 2011:

    Thank you, Serena. Always a thinker, you.

  5. 5 Abby said at 11:08 am on March 24th, 2011:

    Wonderful! Thank you for sharing this!

  6. 6 Rose said at 2:11 pm on March 24th, 2011:

    Awesome poem. I had to laugh while at the same time realizing how prone I am to blindly following the paths that others have made, simply because they are there.

  7. 7 Jason said at 3:31 pm on March 24th, 2011:

    Wow…that's really good.

  8. 8 Serena Woods said at 7:23 pm on March 24th, 2011:

    Thanks, everyone. 🙂

  9. 9 Joyce Harback said at 12:36 pm on March 25th, 2011:

    Laughed and laughed at this one. So true. So typical.

    I just started a new job after being an administrator for over 30 years. I see so many ways in which the processes and procedures are much like this story. I am praying for wisdom to know when to challenge and offer alternatives (efficiencies) but only after I find out why the paths are the way they are.

    Same thing goes for tearing down fences – there was a reason they were put up, may want to check what that is before we remove them.

    Thanks. Great poem, great lesson. You spur me on to thoughtfulness, awareness, sharing love and doing good deeds. Blessings!

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