Moo Cow Moo
Moo Cow Moo
My pa held me up to the moo cow moo
So close I could almost touch
So I fed him a couple of times or two
And I wasn't afraid cat much
But when pa he goes in the house and
Ma she goes too.
I sit still like a little mouse
'Cause the moo cow moo might moo
The moo cow moo's got deers on his head
And his eyes stick out of their place
And the moo cow moo's got a nose
That spread all over the end of his face
The moo cow moo's feet are like fingernails
And his mama don't keep um cut
And he gives milk in water pails
If you don't keep his handle shut
If you or I pull his handle
The moo cow moo says it hurts
But the hired man sits down close by
And squirts and squirts and squirts.
Heidi from Greenville sent this song to me. Here's what she said about this song:
"I really don't have any info on this it was just something my grandmother used to say to me when I was a child but unfortunately she has passed on and when that happens you lose a lot of information. I do know that it was probably something that was thought up in the between 1910 and 1915 because my grandmother was born in 1910. And this was a rhythm that her mother used to tell her and the way my grandma talked it was quite new to the area whether it was new or just new to the area I do not know. But I think that as far the time line goes that would be about right because most people had hired men in the late 1800- to the early 1900's. Also my great-grandmother was full blooded Cherokee Indian and her husband was French so I think this probably came to the U.S. from my great-grandfather's native country France."
It turns out that "Moo Cow Moo" is a poem written by Edmund Vance Cooke. Cooke was born in Port Denver, Ontario, Canada, in 1866. In 1893 he became a self-employed poet and lecturer. He married in 1898 and had 5 children with his wife, Lilith Castleberry. He moved to the US in the 1920's, and died in Cleveland, Ohio in December 1932. Over his lifetime he published at least 16 books of poetry.
It seems that "Moo Cow Moo" appeared in the Saturday Evening Post on November 21, 1903 (which sold for 5 cents at the time). I'm having a hard time tracking down the specific words (each version I find varies slightly). Once I find a book of Cooke's work I'll revise this and perhaps even start a page of Cooke's poetry. Here is the poem as well as I can tell...
Moo Cow Moo
By Edmund Vance Cooke
My papa held me up to the Moo Cow Moo
So close I could almost touch,
And I fed him a couple of times or so,
And I wasn't a fraid-cat, much.
But if my papa goes in the house,
And my mamma she goes in too,
I keep still like a little mouse
For the Moo Cow Moo might Moo.
The Moo Cow's tail is a piece of rope
All raveled out where it grows;
And it's just like feeling a piece of soap
All over the Moo Cow's nose.
And the Moo Cow Moo has lots of fun
Just switching his tail about,
But if he opens his mouth, why then I run,
For that's where the Moo comes out.
The Moo Cow Moo has deers on his head,
And his eyes stick out of their place,
And the nose of the Moo Cow Moo is spread
All over the Moo Cow's face.
And his feet are nothing but fingernails,
And his mamma don't keep them cut,
And he gives folks milk in water pails,
When he don't keep his handles shut.
But if you or I pull his handles, why
The Moo Cow Moo says it hurts,
But the hired man sits down close by
And squirts, and squirts, and squirts.
Here are some other readers' comments on "Moo Cow Moo"...
Windy Spencer wrote me, "I was surfing the web, found your site, and was very surprised to see 'Moo Cow Moo'. Growing up I was told the Moo Cow Moo over and over again, and now I tell it to my children, who also love it! The version I was told is a little different then the one on your site (her version was similar to the original poem), I spoke with my 83 year old Grandmother and told her the other version, she hadn't heard it that way before. She isn't sure of its origin, her father used to recite it to her while he was milking their cow."
Laura Soles wrote, "Just saw your note on the Moo Cow Moo. I never knew this as a song, but it was a poem I selected from 'The Book of Knowledge' encyclopedia to recite in elementary school. That would have been in the late 50's... I loved this poem and at 52 years old still recite it to my family. But I never heard the song. Thanks for the memory!"
Roy Stout wrote, " 'The Moo-Cow-Moo' was one of my favorite childhood poems. Mrs. Couch, my sixth grade teacher at F.S. Root Elementary School, Fayetteville, Arkansas, introduced me to it about forty years ago. The poem was written by Edmund Vance Cooke. I don't know exactly when, but it was at least early 1900's... Thanks for taking me back a few years."
Joseph F. Clayworth wrote, "... thanks for publishing this poem. I have been trying to find it for many years. My Dad used to recite this to me back in the 'old days' ... 1940's or so. There is one 'interpretation' (I won't say correction) that you might want to change. The line:
'And I wasn't afraid cat much,'
should read 'And I wasn't a fraid'-cat much.'
I used to hear 'scaredy-cat' and 'fraidy-cat' used interchangeably, by my peers, in the 2nd grade or so. The poet, I think, was using a contraction of 'fraidy-cat'.
Thanks again Joe"
Here's another note I received:
I found a letter in a copy of a 1907 copy of White Hyacinths by Elbert Hubbard. It was a copy of the Moo Cow Moo song copied from the Nov. 21, 1903 Sat Evening Post! Word for word.
My pa held me up to the moo-cow-moo
So close that I could almost touch,
En, I fed him a time or two,
En, I wasnt a fraid-cat- much.
But if my papa goes into the house,
En mamma, she goes in, too
I just keep still, like a little mouse,
For the moo-cow-moo might moo.
I have a hard time reading the second page-very faded.
Thank you for more info on my 'find'."
Thanks and Acknowledgements
Many thanks to Heidi from Greenville for contributing this song. I would also like to thank Joyce Smith, Dorothy Pollak, Steve West, Peggy Brunyansky and Jerry Welner for writing me regarding "Moo Cow Moo". - Mama Lisa
Thank you very much!