For the chicken ladies.

You know who you are. And I count myself among your number, even though it’s been a long time since I’ve had the pleasure of tending a flock and listening to cackles. 


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.
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,
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!
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,
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.”

-Matthias Claudius (1740 – 1815)

My grandmother was also a chicken lady.

7 thoughts on “For the chicken ladies.

  1. I had no idea that Matthias Claudius was translated into English. Es war mal eine Henne fein, die legte fleissig Eier is one of his funny ones; he wrote so many far more serious poems but it is always good to know that humour is part of anyone’s canon.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I have a photo of my mother and her sister feeding their grandmother’s chickens. They were quite young — Mom might have been five — and of course they carried the feed in a dishpan.

    One of the most oft-heard expressions during my own childhood was “Ain’t nobody here but us chickens.” According to the Venerable Wiki, a song by that title was recorded by Louis Jordan in 1946, the year I was born. The phrase itself first was published as a reader-submitted anecdote in a 1908 issue of Everybody’s Magazine. The anecdote concerned a chicken thief who tried to escape responsibility by saying, “Deed, sah, dey ain’t nobody hyah ‘ceptin’ us chickens.”

    Eventually, Asleep at the Wheel turned the expression into a fine song for two-stepping.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Chicken lady here! I say you must make a great ruckus and noise when you produce something as wonderful as an egg! I eat 4-6 of them a day and thank the Lord for those hens! Cute poem.

    Liked by 1 person

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