Verse > Anthologies > The World’s Best Poetry > Vol. IX. Tragedy: Humor
Bliss Carman, et al., eds.  The World’s Best Poetry.
Volume IX. Tragedy: Humor.  1904.
Humorous Poems: IV. Ingenuities: Oddities
The Hen
Matthias Claudius (1740–1815)
Anonymous translation from the German

A FAMOUS hen ’s my story’s theme,
  Which ne’er was known to tire
Of laying eggs, but then she ’d scream
So loud o’er every egg, ’t would seem
  The house must be on fire.        5
A turkey-cock, who ruled the walk,
  A wiser bird and older,
Could bear ’t no more, so off did stalk
  Right to the hen, and told her:
“Madam, that scream, I apprehend,        10
  Adds nothing to the matter;
It surely helps the egg no whit;
Then lay your egg, and done with it!
I pray you, madam, as a friend,
  Cease that superfluous clatter!        15
You know not how ’t goes through my head.”
“Humph! very likely!” madam said,
Then proudly putting forth a leg,—
“Uneducated barnyard fowl!
You know, no more than any owl,        20
The noble privilege and praise
Of authorship in modern days—
  I ’ll tell you why I do it:
First, you perceive, I lay the egg,
And then—review it.”        25

Shakespeare · Bible · Strunk · Anatomy · Nonfiction · Quotations · Reference · Fiction · Poetry
© 1993–2015 · [Top 150] · Subjects · Titles · Authors · World Lit.