Poetry International Poetry International
Poem

Inuo Taguchi

GENERAL MOO

General Moo, when I first found your name
in a wonderful old anthology of foreign poems
I just couldn’t keep back something
welling up in my heart.

General Moo, some years have passed since then,
the grassy pasture you grazed on has completely come back to life,
historians don’t even glance at the letters engraved on the backs of spoons,
and they take no notice of the upgraded neighboring vineyard.

General Moo, what I want to mention here first is
the elegant motion of your jaws as you graze.
I could clearly see the arteries in your neck looking like a splendid tree,
and as you slowly chewed your cud
I would always feel the actual effect of the earth revolving.

General Moo, you kept squeezing out the pure milk-white liquid.
However much you were criticized for your bourgeois taste,
all your life you took great pride in your own rich protein and at the same time
you found your only consolation in the fact that
calcium soothed the feelings of people who were scared.

General Moo, when you sang in the pasture
birds’ wings all over the country were dyed milk-white.
When you dreamed in the pasture,
springs all across the country turned into white milk.
As a lover of superstition,
the only inferiority complex you had was that tea leaves didn’t stand erect in milk.

General Moo, when the people of this country split into North and South and fought,
you stood alone on the border where the two armies faced each other,
and, looking up, as the bullets whizzed by, you yawned gapingly again and again.
You alone buried, with the greatest care,
those who were in every sense lost to history.

General Moo, at a conference in Bucharest
you demanded passionately with an open heart
that the fences of all the world’s pastures should be abolished; but,
you got nothing there but a cup of hot tea,
chilly stares and a quick arrangement for the planes to return home.

General Moo, after the attempted assassination
security for the pastures was greatly increased
and yet hordes of reporters cut open your belly without a scalpel,
scooped your guts out and quickly wired your condition to their native lands.
It sounds like a lie but they could actually in this way afford electrical implements.

General Moo, you were shortly attacked from behind
by a betrayal, clearer than the clarity of the moon, of those you trusted most.
After that, you fell rapidly from power as from a staircase
and the so-much-praised milk-white color that you produced became gradually disagreeable to
general taste.
And these two facts, oddly, happened at the same time.

General Moo, looking back, one thing that consoles us now is
that you were unexpectedly happy in your later years.
Surrounded by birds, tranquility and the one you love
you could devote yourself by day to your long-cherished desire to study the history of pastures,
and at night you could even afford to have the material pleasure of sprinkling fragrant cinnamon
on your warm café au lait.

General Moo, what you personally sought was
a single rainbow minus all impurities,
and what you loved life-long was
the wind that constantly wafted across the fence.

General Moo, when the wind you loved so much
finally had circled the earth after decades,
and reached the hillside grave where you sleep now,
didn’t you feel nostalgic, as though you were meeting your friend
for the first time in several decades?

General Moo, you always dyed the world’s scenery with your milk
and you faithfully produced nutrition that fostered idealism,
and in order for these to have changed form, neither war nor revolution was needed.
Might you beneath the dirt be secretly angry, saying, “Oh, how I myself feel like crying!”?

General Moo, so let me pray over your bones one more time
on this hill overlooking the whitened ruins,
on this tender earth that smells of you,
amid the singing birds you loved so well,
under the blue sky that hasn’t changed a bit
from the time when you were alive.

GENERAL MOO

Close

GENERAL MOO

General Moo, when I first found your name
in a wonderful old anthology of foreign poems
I just couldn’t keep back something
welling up in my heart.

General Moo, some years have passed since then,
the grassy pasture you grazed on has completely come back to life,
historians don’t even glance at the letters engraved on the backs of spoons,
and they take no notice of the upgraded neighboring vineyard.

General Moo, what I want to mention here first is
the elegant motion of your jaws as you graze.
I could clearly see the arteries in your neck looking like a splendid tree,
and as you slowly chewed your cud
I would always feel the actual effect of the earth revolving.

General Moo, you kept squeezing out the pure milk-white liquid.
However much you were criticized for your bourgeois taste,
all your life you took great pride in your own rich protein and at the same time
you found your only consolation in the fact that
calcium soothed the feelings of people who were scared.

General Moo, when you sang in the pasture
birds’ wings all over the country were dyed milk-white.
When you dreamed in the pasture,
springs all across the country turned into white milk.
As a lover of superstition,
the only inferiority complex you had was that tea leaves didn’t stand erect in milk.

General Moo, when the people of this country split into North and South and fought,
you stood alone on the border where the two armies faced each other,
and, looking up, as the bullets whizzed by, you yawned gapingly again and again.
You alone buried, with the greatest care,
those who were in every sense lost to history.

General Moo, at a conference in Bucharest
you demanded passionately with an open heart
that the fences of all the world’s pastures should be abolished; but,
you got nothing there but a cup of hot tea,
chilly stares and a quick arrangement for the planes to return home.

General Moo, after the attempted assassination
security for the pastures was greatly increased
and yet hordes of reporters cut open your belly without a scalpel,
scooped your guts out and quickly wired your condition to their native lands.
It sounds like a lie but they could actually in this way afford electrical implements.

General Moo, you were shortly attacked from behind
by a betrayal, clearer than the clarity of the moon, of those you trusted most.
After that, you fell rapidly from power as from a staircase
and the so-much-praised milk-white color that you produced became gradually disagreeable to
general taste.
And these two facts, oddly, happened at the same time.

General Moo, looking back, one thing that consoles us now is
that you were unexpectedly happy in your later years.
Surrounded by birds, tranquility and the one you love
you could devote yourself by day to your long-cherished desire to study the history of pastures,
and at night you could even afford to have the material pleasure of sprinkling fragrant cinnamon
on your warm café au lait.

General Moo, what you personally sought was
a single rainbow minus all impurities,
and what you loved life-long was
the wind that constantly wafted across the fence.

General Moo, when the wind you loved so much
finally had circled the earth after decades,
and reached the hillside grave where you sleep now,
didn’t you feel nostalgic, as though you were meeting your friend
for the first time in several decades?

General Moo, you always dyed the world’s scenery with your milk
and you faithfully produced nutrition that fostered idealism,
and in order for these to have changed form, neither war nor revolution was needed.
Might you beneath the dirt be secretly angry, saying, “Oh, how I myself feel like crying!”?

General Moo, so let me pray over your bones one more time
on this hill overlooking the whitened ruins,
on this tender earth that smells of you,
amid the singing birds you loved so well,
under the blue sky that hasn’t changed a bit
from the time when you were alive.

GENERAL MOO

General Moo, when I first found your name
in a wonderful old anthology of foreign poems
I just couldn’t keep back something
welling up in my heart.

General Moo, some years have passed since then,
the grassy pasture you grazed on has completely come back to life,
historians don’t even glance at the letters engraved on the backs of spoons,
and they take no notice of the upgraded neighboring vineyard.

General Moo, what I want to mention here first is
the elegant motion of your jaws as you graze.
I could clearly see the arteries in your neck looking like a splendid tree,
and as you slowly chewed your cud
I would always feel the actual effect of the earth revolving.

General Moo, you kept squeezing out the pure milk-white liquid.
However much you were criticized for your bourgeois taste,
all your life you took great pride in your own rich protein and at the same time
you found your only consolation in the fact that
calcium soothed the feelings of people who were scared.

General Moo, when you sang in the pasture
birds’ wings all over the country were dyed milk-white.
When you dreamed in the pasture,
springs all across the country turned into white milk.
As a lover of superstition,
the only inferiority complex you had was that tea leaves didn’t stand erect in milk.

General Moo, when the people of this country split into North and South and fought,
you stood alone on the border where the two armies faced each other,
and, looking up, as the bullets whizzed by, you yawned gapingly again and again.
You alone buried, with the greatest care,
those who were in every sense lost to history.

General Moo, at a conference in Bucharest
you demanded passionately with an open heart
that the fences of all the world’s pastures should be abolished; but,
you got nothing there but a cup of hot tea,
chilly stares and a quick arrangement for the planes to return home.

General Moo, after the attempted assassination
security for the pastures was greatly increased
and yet hordes of reporters cut open your belly without a scalpel,
scooped your guts out and quickly wired your condition to their native lands.
It sounds like a lie but they could actually in this way afford electrical implements.

General Moo, you were shortly attacked from behind
by a betrayal, clearer than the clarity of the moon, of those you trusted most.
After that, you fell rapidly from power as from a staircase
and the so-much-praised milk-white color that you produced became gradually disagreeable to
general taste.
And these two facts, oddly, happened at the same time.

General Moo, looking back, one thing that consoles us now is
that you were unexpectedly happy in your later years.
Surrounded by birds, tranquility and the one you love
you could devote yourself by day to your long-cherished desire to study the history of pastures,
and at night you could even afford to have the material pleasure of sprinkling fragrant cinnamon
on your warm café au lait.

General Moo, what you personally sought was
a single rainbow minus all impurities,
and what you loved life-long was
the wind that constantly wafted across the fence.

General Moo, when the wind you loved so much
finally had circled the earth after decades,
and reached the hillside grave where you sleep now,
didn’t you feel nostalgic, as though you were meeting your friend
for the first time in several decades?

General Moo, you always dyed the world’s scenery with your milk
and you faithfully produced nutrition that fostered idealism,
and in order for these to have changed form, neither war nor revolution was needed.
Might you beneath the dirt be secretly angry, saying, “Oh, how I myself feel like crying!”?

General Moo, so let me pray over your bones one more time
on this hill overlooking the whitened ruins,
on this tender earth that smells of you,
amid the singing birds you loved so well,
under the blue sky that hasn’t changed a bit
from the time when you were alive.
Sponsors
Gemeente Rotterdam
Nederlands Letterenfonds
Stichting Van Beuningen Peterich-fonds
Ludo Pieters Gastschrijver Fonds
Hendrik Muller fonds
Lira fonds
Partners
LantarenVenster – Verhalenhuis Belvédère