Thoughts for Myself

The goat ate it!

There came a letter from the white goat,

But without a glance, ate the black goat.

“What should I do?” – so the black goat wrote,

“Exactly what was written in your last note?”


Then came a letter from the black goat,

But without a glance, ate the white goat.

“What should I do?” – so the white goat wrote,

“Exactly what was written in your last note?”


(repeat first and second verses)


This is a very famous children’s song called “The Goat Post” [my translation, lyrics and title] of my homeland. As you can see, it is about a couple of goats, white and black, that has fallen into an endless loop of exchanging letters because they could not resist eating them. The song is highly addictive in at least two ways:


For one, you do not know when to stop. Once you start singing, each verse always ends with a question, so your curiosity makes you carry on to the next verse in the hopes of finding out the answer. Next thing you know, you are also caught in the endless loop of goats’ exchange of letters!


And two, one mystery leads to another. Of course, it makes you wonder what was written in the very first letter from the white goat. But why letters… could they not have communicated on the phone, or just met up somewhere? If the letters were so irresistible to eat, how did they restrain themselves from eating while writing? And what is their relationship anyway… family or friends, lovers or enemies, or teacher and student? I am sure you can come up with a million more questions!


The song itself and the search for its true meaning keep going round and round in your head. There is just no way out of it! It is quite distracting, and sometimes even debilitating (it can easily steal your cognitive capacity away from the tasks at hand). It can possibly dizzy you until you finally doze off. But somehow, it bedazzles you.


Maybe because it reminds you of the fun in sending letters and telling your correspondents what you have been up to.

Maybe because it reminds you of the excitement in receiving letters and knowing how your correspondents are doing.


Maybe it makes you realize your connection with others in a tangible manner.

Maybe it makes your heart warm, holding in your hands the thought that went into keeping those connections alive in the form of letters… so much so, you could eat them all up!


The month of July used to be called “the Month of Letters” in my mother tongue (some say because it is the month in which we write our wishes on strips of papers and send them to the skies above during Star Festival), and tomorrow is designated as “The Day of Letters” by our national postal service (for the short-form of the number 23 is pronounced the same way as the word for “letter”). It is a day to find out the fun of sending, and the excitement of receiving, letters, and thereby aid in promoting the passing down of literate culture into the future.


We also have a tradition to send “summer greeting” postcards to those who are important to us during the hottest time of the year, asking how they are doing and wish for their health and safety. Many are sent out as thank-you cards for receiving midsummer gifts.




Which type of card to send to which person? And how many will I receive? The summer fun and excitement is here once again for me!


Oh, I think I just arrived at my interpretation of the song – they are two penpal goats having lots of fun sending, but too much excitement receiving, letters, unable to contain their affection for each other and resist temptation to eat them all up.


What do you think?


A last note: five years of unsent and unreceived letters (texts) remembered, Norway.


One thought on “The goat ate it!

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