Terence, this is stupid stuff
by A.E. Housman
The Dead Cow
The dead cow is the central image in the first speaker's complaint about poetry. Sick of hearing sad poems, he makes up this little parody of a pointless melancholy poem. A dead cow would normally be sad, but the way this guy rolls it out makes it seem kind of funny, in a dark way (or maybe we just have a twisted sense of humor).
- Lines 7-8: The first speaker uses the dead cow image to poke fun at a bunch of poetic techniques. He teases poets for their meaningless repetitions, like "the cow, the old cow." He also makes fun of poets who twist words around to fit the meter, coming up with weird, unnatural phrases like "the horned head" (to fit the meter, you have to pronounce "horned" like it had two syllables: horn-ed). We can see how this kind of silliness might bug a down-to-earth guy like this.