Saturday, September 19, 2009

A Poem About Chickens


I'm sure it's illegal for me to publish the whole poem here, even if Andrew Sullivan did so on his blog. But Andrew Sullivan writes for The Atlantic, where this was originally published, so he probably has special dispensation. In any event, I'll just link to the rest of it. It's a great poem, because it really gets at the pathos of chickens. It's easy to be flippant or cute about them -- there are so many cliches. But there is something essentially tragic about chickens. I found the last half of the poem to be especially moving.

But while you're over there on the Atlantic site, don't get roped into reading the ridiculous essay by a certain "drink-soaked former Trotskyist popinjay" on why Jon Stewart isn't funny. You might enjoy the thing about the Erie Canal by Ithacan Rachel Dickinson, with great pics.

Hens, by Henri Cole

It’s good for the ego, when I call and they come
running, squawking and clucking, because it’s feedtime,
and once again I can’t resist picking up little Lazarus,
an orange-and-white pullet I adore. “Yes, yes, everything will be
okay,” I say to her glaring mongrel face...

9 comments:

jrlennon said...

In the wake of having two kids, you'd think we would go out of our way to avoid acquiring more creatures to feel empathy for. But no. We had to get chickens.

I think they're good for writers to have. Their singleness of purpose and excessive caution are a fine model for people who stay indoors all the time, sitting at a desk and thinking. (While looking out the window at chickens, of course.)

jon said...

I've always wanted chickens, but i think they're illegal in the city of ithaca, unlike brooklyn, where backyard food is a lawful fad.

jrlennon said...

I think it's time for you to start hitting those city council meetings, Jon.

jon said...

i don't think i'm that far gone yet. but, if you loaned me a few chickens, i could lead them into the August Chambers.

ed skoog said...

You can have three chickens, only hens, in Seattle.

Here's a link to chicken laws of us cities:
http://home.centurytel.net/thecitychicken/chickenlaws.html

For the District, it's: Washington D.C. Section 902 of the Animal Control Code requires hens to be 50 ft. from any residence. Citizens are currently working to eliminate the 50 ft. rule, and to modify the requirement that you have to get written consent from all your neighbors before you keep chickens.

So no chickens at the Lenthall House. Unless...

jrlennon said...

...you put little Abercrombie & Fitch tee shirts on them and tell people they're students!

Stephen said...

I've kept a lot of chickens so I like this piece of writing a lot. But is it really a great poem, or even a poem at all, if where the sentences are broken into lines doesn't make any difference to the meaning or the sound or the rhythm? When Tennyson or Eliot wrote blank verse it mattered massively where one line ended and the next began...

jon said...

so much depends up on a red wheel barrow!

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