Found — a handwritten poem in a reprint of Omar Khayyam’s Rubaiyat, a parody on the theme of chickens. It probably dates from the 1920s. There are 1000s of such tribute/ parodies, many published. This appears completely unknown …
Rubaiyat of a Rhode Island Red
Awake, for morning through the roosting shed
Has stained the dusty windows gold and red;
The weary toiler of a thousand fields
Will soon be climbing from his downy bed!
Awake! The silver buckets of the day
Are clanking and the corn is on the way –
The early worm creeps but a laggard inch,
And lo! The bird espies her prey.
‘Neath that inverted box they call a coop
There sits the broody with her little troop:
For them what fortune calls – the plucking shed,
The Palace – or the haying test – or Roup?
(The Palace = a famous poultry show – Roup = a disease)
The fluffy chick men set their hearts upon
Is dead-in-shell – or hatches, and anon
After a fleeting week of hopes and fears
Turns toes up in the Brooder, and is gone:
And those who gave the chicks too little grain,
And those who flung it down like golden rain,
Alike must lay the corpses underground
which, buried once, the dog digs up again.
Some Rhodes we loved, the cluckiest and the best
That ever sat a perch or graced a nest,
Laid their last eggs a month or two agony,
And sank (but not so silently) to rest.
I sometimes think that never glows so red
The comb as where Spratt’s Laying Meal is fed,
That every pallid crest the farmyard bears
Is simply due to using Blank’s instead:
And that immortal orb whose golden shell
Holds all the wonder of the ages – well –
How runs the riddle? Was the egg the first,
Or was the layer? Ah, who knows, who knows?
Ah, with the vitamin my life favouride,
And pluck my body whence the life had died,
And we may meet – if I am not too tough,
Once more upon thy board at Christmastide.