“The Calf Path” – by Sam Walter Foss

[Video reading]

One day thru the primeval wood

A calf walked home, as good calves should;

But made a trail, all bent askew,

A crooked trail, as all calves do.

Since then 300 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 bell weathered sheep

Pursued the trail, o’er~vale and steep,

And drew the flocks behind him too

As good bell weathers always do.

And from that day, o’er hill and glade

Thru those 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.

And thru the winding woods they stalked

Because he wobbled when he walked.

* * *

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 the footsteps of that calf.

* * *

Each day a 100 thousand route

Followed the zig-zag calf about,

And o’er his crooked journey went

The traffic of a continent.

A 100 thousand men were led

By one calf, near three centuries dead.

They followed still his crooked way

And lost 100 years per day.

For this such reverence is lent

To well establish precedent.

* * *

A moral lesson this might teach

Were I ordained , and called to preach.

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 paths that others do.

They keep the paths a sacred groove

Along which all their lives they move.

But how the wise old wood gods laugh

Who saw that first primeval calf.

Ah, many things this tale might teach,

But I am not ordained to preach.

* * *

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