An Ox Looks at Man

 From Poem of the Day

Sometimes I wonder what, if anything, animals think about us. “An Ox Looks at Man” is one poet’s reflection.

They are more delicate even than shrubs and they run
and run from one side to the other, always forgetting
Surely they lack I don’t know what
basic ingredient, though they present themselves
as noble or serious, at times.
Oh, terribly serious,
even tragic.
Poor things, one would say that they hear
neither the song of the air nor the secrets of hay;
likewise they seem not to see what is visible
and common to each of us, in space.
And they are sad,
and in the wake of sadness they come to cruelty.
All their expression lives in their eyes–and loses itself
to a simple lowering of lids, to a shadow.
And since there is little of the mountain about them –
nothing in the hair or in the terribly fragile limbs
but coldness and secrecy — it is impossible for them
to settle themselves into forms that are calm, lasting
and necessary.
They have, perhaps, a kind
of melancholy grace (one minute) and with this they allow
themselves to forget the problems
and translucent inner emptiness
that make them so poor and so lacking
when it comes to uttering silly and painful sounds:
desire, love, jealousy
(what do we know?) — sounds that scatter and fall in the field
like troubled stones and burn the herbs and the water,
and after this it is hard to keep chewing away at our truth.
by Carlos Drummond de Andrade

For more about Carlos Drummond de Andrade:

2 thoughts on “An Ox Looks at Man

  1. Lovely. I would say that they know a secret about existence that we have overlooked, though, as many animals do.

  2. Incredibly beautifully articulated, though I would say our ways do not hinder their truthful chews. an excerpt from a much less well-articulated poem i wrote, channeling the strength Bison, is as follows:

    “…Instead I crouch here
    Waiting. Stubbornly
    defiant puffs of breath like
    Spirit ghosts filling visions
    In cold morning air

    I am the bison
    Shaggy hair
    Strong, brown eyes
    of many sorrows churned to
    deep remembering deep wisdom held

    With deep intent.”

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