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The World’s Wit and Humor: An Encyclopedia in 15 Volumes. 1906.

Matthias Claudius (1740–1815)

The Hen and the Egg

From “Fables”

A FAMOUS hen’s my story’s theme,

Who ne’er was known to tire

Of laying eggs, but then she’d scream

So loud o’er every egg, ’twould 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,

Does not affect the matter;

It surely helps the eggs no whit;

So, 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 my egg,

And then—review it.”