Naming the Animals

‘Until he named the cow cow, no one slept standing up’ /

Until he named the horse
hoofs left no print on the earth,
manes had not been invented,
swiftness and grace were not married.

Until he named the cow
no one slept standing up,
no one saw through opaque eyes,
food was chewed only once.

Only after he named the fish
did the light put on skins
of yellow and silver oil,
revealing itself as a dancer
and high-jump champion of the world,

just as later
he had to name the woman
before he could put on the knowledge
of who she was, with her small hands.

Lisel Mueller is a German-born American poet and winner of the Pulitzer Prize. Reprinted by permission of Louisiana State University Press from Alive Together by Lisel Mueller. Copyright © 1996 by Lisel Mueller.

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Also in this Issue

Issue 20 / April 16, 2015
  1. Editors’ Note

    Issue 20: Language, Ants, and Julian of Norwich

  2. O for 7,000+ Tongues to Meep

    In the beginning was the Word, and the Word birthed many more. /

  3. A Bizarre and Mighty Civilization

    And it’s made by leafcutter ants. /

  4. Morning Songs in the Night

    God sings the same chorus over and over—even during the blackest of plagues. /

  5. Wonder on the Web

    Links to amazing stuff /

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