A Blue Ribbon at Amesbury

SUCH a fine pullet ought to go
All coiffured to a winter show,
And be exhibited, and win.
The answer is this one has been —
And come with all her ribbons home.
Her golden leg, her coral comb,
Her fluff of plumage white as chalk,
Her shape, were all the fancy’s talk.
It seems as if you must have heard.
She scored an almost perfect bird.
In her we make ourselves acquainted
With one a Sewell might have painted.
Here common with the flock again,
At home in her abiding pen,
She lingers at the feeding trough,
The last to let night drive her off.
The one who gave her ankle band,
Her keeper, empty pail in hand,
He lingers too, averse to slight
His chores for all the wintry night.
He leans against the dusty wall
Immured almost beyond recall,
A depth of many swinging doors
Past many letter-muffled floors.
He meditates the breeder’s art.
He has a half a mind to start,
With her for Mother Eve, a race
That shall all living things displace.
’T is ritual with her to lay
The full six days, then rest a day;
At which rate, barring broodiness,
She well may score an egg success.
The gatherer can always tell
Her well-turned egg’s brown sturdy shell,
As safe a vehicle of seed
As is vouchsafed to feathered breed.
No human spectre at the feast
Can scant or hurry her the least.
She takes her time to take her fill.
She whets a sleepy sated bill.
She gropes across the pen alone
To peck herself a precious stone.
She waters at the patent fount,
And so to roost, the last to mount.
The roost is her extent of flight,
But once she rises to the height,
She shoulders with a wing so strong
She makes the whole flock move along.
The night is setting in to blow.
It scours the windowpane with snow;
But barely gets from them or her
For comment a complacent chirr.
The lowly pen is yet a hold
Against the dark and wind and cold
To give a prospect to a plan
And warrant prudence in a man.