Tuesday, 3 June 2014

One of Hans Christian Andersen's 'poultry' ones!


 The farmyard cock and the weathercock

There were two cocks, one on the compost heap and one on the roof, both equally arrogant – but which was the more accomplished? Let’s have your opinion – we’ll keep our own anyway.
The hen-run was separated by a wooden fence from another farmyard where there lay a compost heap, and on this heap there grew a large cucumber who was highly conscious of being a garden-frame plant: ‘It’s all a matter of birth!’ a voice said inside it, ‘not everyone can be born a cucumber, there have to be other living species as well! Hens, ducks and all the livestock of the farm next door are also creatures. Now I happen to look up to the farmyard cock on the fence, he is definitely much more important than the weathercock, who has been placed so high up and can’t even creak, let alone crow! he’s got neither hens or chickens, he only thinks of himself and sweats verdigris! no, the farmyard cock, now there’s a real cock for you! see him strut, it’s dancing! hear him crow, it’s music! wherever he passes you can hear what a trumpeter is! If he came in here, if he ate me up leaf and stalk, if I ended up inside him, it would be a blissful death!’ the cucumber said.
That night there was a terrible storm; hens, chickens and the cock sought shelter; the fencing between the farms blew down with a mighty crash; the tiles fell off the roof, but the weathercock stood firm, he didn’t even turn, he was unable to; even though young and newly cast, he was sedate and sober-minded – he had been born old, did not resemble the fluttering birds of the sky, sparrows and swallows, he despised them: ‘dicky-birds, half-pints and two-a-penny!’ The pigeons were large, gleaming and shiny, like mother-of-pearl – looked a bit like a weathercock – but they were fat and stupid, their sole thought was to have a good tuck-in, the weathercock said, and boring company as well. The migratory birds had also paid a visit, spoken of foreign lands, of caravans of birds in the sky and terrible cock-and-bull stories involving birds of prey – that was new and interesting the first time, but later on the weathercock knew they would repeat themselves, it was always the same old story – and that’s so boring! They were boring and everything was boring, no one was interesting company, everyone was flat and stale.
‘The world’s no good!’ it said. ‘It’s all a load of rubbish!’
The weathercock was what is called blasé, and that would definitely have made him interesting to the cucumber, if she had known about it, but she only had eyes for the farmyard cock and now they were both on the same farm.
The fencing had blown down, but the thunder and lightning were over.
‘What do you all think of that cock-crowing?’ the farmyard cock asked the hens and chickens. ‘It was a bit on the coarse side, lacked any elegance!’
And the hens and chickens came over to the compost heap, the cock advanced with the strides of a rider.
‘Garden plant!’ he said to the cucumber, and in that single word she sensed the full extent of his cultivated nature and forgot that he pecked at her and ate her.
‘Blissful death!’
And the hens came and the chickens came and when one starts to run, the others follow suit, and they clucked and cheeped and looked at the cock, they were proud of him, he was one of their own.
‘Cockadoodledoo!’ he crowed, ‘chickens will soon become large hens when I say it in the henyard of the world!’
And both hens and chickens clucked and cheeped afterwards! And the cock announced a great piece of news.
‘A cock can lay an egg! And do you know what is inside that egg? A cockatrice lies inside it! No one can withstand the sight of it! Humans know that and now all of you know that too, know what lives inside me! know what a top-of-the-heap sort of a fellow I am!’
And the farmyard cock flapped his wings, waggled his coxcomb and crowed again; and gave all the hens and all the small chickens the shivers, but they were frightfully proud that one of their own, that he was such a top-of-the-heap sort of a fellow; they clucked and they cheeped so loudly the weathercock must surely hear it, and he did hear it, but he made not the slightest movement.
‘It’s all a load of rubbish!’ it said inside the weathercock. ‘The farmyard cock never lays eggs and I can’t be bothered! If I wanted to, I could certainly lay a wind egg! but the world isn’t worth a wind egg! A load of rubbish, all of it! – Now I can’t even be bothered to sit up here!’
And so the weathercock broke off and fell from his perch, but he didn’t kill the farmyard cock, ‘though that was certainly his intention!’ the hens said. And what’s the moral of the story?
‘Better by far to crow than be blasé and fall from one’s perch!’

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