Read Caption
Swiss cows near St. Moritz, one of the most docile breeds in the world. (Photo by Andrew Evans, National Geographic Traveler)

Ode to a Swiss Cow

Your kind face makes me stop,

Your eyelashes so arresting

That from my bike, I hop.

Rip clumps of grass in offering.

You inquire with a wiggly nose

With careful lips you chomp

On lavender and wild rose

Then take a perfumed dump.

The slanted fields of Switzerland

Demand a steady foot.

How I envy how you stand

With your sturdy mountain hooves.

View Images
Sprechen Sie Schwyzerdütsch? (Photo by AE/NGT)

The call of your bell makes me smile

A happy clang around your neck.

A song that says, “Come stay awhile,

Slow down, sit, take a rest.”

So kneeling in the grass I shudder,

In quiet awe of your pulsing udder,

Warm bottle to the calves you mudder,

A jackpot filled with rich Swiss Butter.

You were the first Swiss bank account.

Happy farmers investing in your ilk.

Depositing hay, flowers, water and sun

Withdrawing drops of pure white milk.

I wonder where your bounty ends—

In heavy rounds of gold-crust Gruyère,

In swirling strings of the finest fondue,

The magic melt of a chocolate bar

The satisfying plop of coffee cream,

Grand finale to my dairy dream?

Of all the cows in all the world

Thou art surely the most placid

Neither Scottish hairy nor Texas Longhorn,

And thy milk never turns acrid.

With thee I’d happily spend an afternoon.

Watching clouds and whistling carefree tunes,

When I leave at dusk, it will be too soon.

The time when cows jump over the moon.

And so,

Silent beast beneath a white-crossed banner,

Above all, I shall remember your manner:

Unflinching, unswayed, unbothered and cooth.

Helvetia’s animal standard of truth.

Oh, humble creature of this mighty mountain land!

You are not a lion, a bear, or some noble stag.

But should I ever be crowned king of Switzerland,

Without question, I’d put a cow on the flag!

View Images
Communing with a friendly brown cow in the Swiss Alps. (Photo by Flavio, St. Moritz)