There’s a white cow standing upon the hill,
surely the whitest cow I shall ever see.
As usual with cows she is eating grass.
Nothing strange about that, except that the light,
the white light of the sun increases her white
until she seems like a moon reflecting the sun,
a cow-shaped moon newly materialized
to dazzle upon the rise of a grassy hill.
Perhaps she is the cow that jumped over the moon,
but how much grass can she nonchalantly bite
with that white light breaking upon her body?
O, now she raises her head and, striking a pose,
commands the field with a curve of her delicate tail.
And so I see that she has become a goddess
exacting and appreciating the homage
owed to a white spirit by darker creatures.
Those dull cows browsing in brown below her,
mere cows, I see that they cannot comprehend
how their appearance enhances the white goddess.
And yet their heads are lowered in due respect.
She is their deity as she is mine,
although I see her only from my distance.
I see her only through my grimy window.
Suppose I left my papers and left my desk,
walked through the garden, crossed the old stone wall,
slogged through the swamp at the bottom of the hill,
then with lowered eyes I could approach that whiteness.
Would I be touched to some extent by the sunlight,
and would my eyes be blinded with revelation?
Or would I find cow dung beneath my feet
and would she and I eat grass for the rest of our lives?
“The Cow” was written shortly after I left America to take up residence in County Clare, Ireland.