The Works of the Rev. Jonathan Swift/Volume 17/The Capon's Tale

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While this work is included within The Works of the Rev. Jonathan Swift and is not attributed to anyone other than Jonathan Swift, it may have been written by another member of the Scriblerus Club. The club, which was founded in 1714, included Jonathan Swift, Alexander Pope, John Gay, John Arbuthnot, Henry St John, and Thomas Parnell.



IN Yorkshire dwelt a sober yeoman,
Whose wife, a clean, painstaking woman,
Fed num'rous poultry in her pens,
And saw her cocks well serve her hens.
A hen she had whose tuneful clocks
Drew after her a train of cocks;
With eyes so piercing, yet so pleasant,
You would have sworn this hen a pheasant.
All the plum'd beau monde round her gathers;
Lord! what a brustling up of feathers!
Morning from noon there was no knowing,
There was such flutt'ring, chuckling, crowing:
Each forward bird must thrust his head in,
And not a cock but would be treading.
Yet tender was this hen so fair.
And hatch'd more chicks than she could rear.
Our prudent dame bethought her then
Of some dry nurse to save her hen:
She made a capon drunk; in fine
He eats the sops, she sipp'd the wine;
His rump well pluck'd with nettles stings,
And claps the brood beneath his wings.
The feather'd dupe awakes content,
O'erjoy'd to see what God had sent;
Thinks he's the hen, clocks, keeps a pother,
A foolish foster-father-mother.
Such, lady Mary, are your tricks;
But since you hatch, pray own your chicks.