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What Have We Sinned?


Dr. Brunauer Hunyadi Dalma

What Have We Sinned?


While I still have breath,

Though my brains have turned to sponge,

I stagger half-crazed with pain,

And, blindly, fall in a heap,

I ask you, What have we sinned?”


As in a distant fog

I see visions of how  once you honored us,

With our sleek coats shining,

Our stout horns gleaming with gold

And our hoofs covered with rich ointments,

„Hathor,” you called us in Egypt, and Kali in India,

And „Athena, the cow-eyed goddess.”


But we don’t want to go back that far,

We dream of an England so fair--

We sisters ambling in lush green grass,

Our young calves frolicking in the sunshine,

Leaping for joy of just being ALIVE!


Evenings, we slowly returned to our homes,

Drank the fresh water and gladly shared

Our fresh,  frothy milk with the singing farmwife.

We had enough for her babes and ours,

Well sated with grass and corn.


But woe!  That evil Greed put a stop to that!

Brutal men put brutal bulls on us sooner,

Our young babes were torn from us sooner,

Never to stand up again in their coffin-like crates.

The gentle milking hands were gone also,

The farmer driven out, in his place the machines,

Our tender tits cruelly harnessed,

Day in and day out, we became milk-machines,

No sunshine, no fresh grass, no cozy stalls near our sisters,

Just stainless steel walls, harsh pumping, till we slumped,


And were slain.


And even that was not enough.  More! More! More! They clamored.

Grow faster! Grow fatter! More milk! More calves! More meat!

Before, we knew that when old, our tired bodies would yield meat for men,

But we accepted that, proud to be useful till the end.

Our skins, horns, hooves, meat, all doing good

In death, as we did in life.

Oh, we did not begrudge men our bones to yield nourishing soup,

Just as we took joy in the mounds of soft cheeses,

And in the full cups of milk their children, laughing, drank.

Men gave us shelter and clean food, a fair exchange.


But now--our food became revolting!

No more sweet clover, tasty green grass, fresh hay.

Evil-smelling fodder was put in our troughs, nauseating.

Sheep offal, mad brains, filthy garbage. „Protein.”

We would rather have died.  Why did we not?

It would have been much better.  To starve slowly

Rather than to turn mad.  But our fate forbade it.

Pregnant and nursing, Nature forced us to eat,

Poisoning us and now YOU:


For now we must suffer agonies worse than death,

Knowing that even in death we will be useless,

Slaughtered, burned, buried like some unclean trash,

We who loved cleanliness, usefulness above all,

Five millions of us! What a holocaust! And for what?


I take no pleasure in knowing that you, too, will die.

That your children and theirs will share my dreadful fate,

I would much rather that you learned from my words.


Tell me! YOU, who will strike the blow that slays me,

Will you do this for me?  Will you swear off beef?


             The Song of the Mad Cow


What have we sinned that you treat us so?

We gave and gave and gave and you wanted more.

More milk, more calves, more meat, more MARBLED mat!

No soft straw to stand on, only ground-up trash,

No cozy, warm barn with our calves at our sides,

Just cold metal and cruel, harsh machines--

You gave us OFFAL to eat, abattoir filth--

And when we began to sicken and to die,

You LIED and said our meat would still be safe--

And to the slaughter with us, by the millions we must go…


You call US mad--US!.  And what are YOU?


Tokyo, April 4, 1996


Dalma Hunyadi Brunauer






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