I wrote this poem for a friend who was trying to explain to her son why he couldn’t participate in collecting the eggs laid by the hens kept at his school. I thought it might be useful to someone somewhere. If, however, it offends your literary sensibilities, I apologise profusely.
Polly and Molly: A Tale of Two Hens
Polly and Molly
Polly’s a hen and she lives in the wood.
She likes bathing in dust piles; thinks digging is good.
She has three other friends who will join her to chat
And they cluck and they chirrup of this and of that.
Molly, her cousin, lived down on the farm
Where the foxes and ferrets could do her no harm
And though she had friends there just like you and me
She often felt sad that she could not be free.
While Polly and her friends can go where they please
And sit by the river or walk near the trees
Poor Molly saw fences and cages and bars
And at night was locked up–couldn’t look at the stars.
One morning when both hens had opened their eyes
They found that their nests held a lovely surprise.
Each climbed from her bed to stretch wing and stretch leg
And saw that her nest was now holding an egg.
‘My goodness’, thought Molly, ‘can this really be
Is it true that this egg here belongs just to me?’
And she danced and squawked and she kicked up some dust
And she clucked at the egg and she preened and she fussed.
‘It might be a toy, or it might be to eat,
But whatever it’s for it’s a very nice treat’.
So she tapped with her beak and she chirped and she cooed
And she thought that the egg would make excellent food.
Now, Polly was happy as happy can be
For she’d laid her own egg in the shade of a tree.
She pranced and she scratched—it was such a big deal
To have this new gift. Could it truly be real?
Both Polly and Molly were filled with such joy.
Both hens were proud of their latest new toy.
They rolled them and tapped them and licked them, you see:
They would play with them first and then eat them for tea.
But as Molly was singing, the farmer came by
With a basket, and poor Molly shouted ‘Oh my!
He’ll take my new egg and then I’ll have none
And I’ll miss it! Oh dear! This isn’t such fun!’
So she clucked out a warning and hoped he could hear:
‘Please, farmer, don’t take it. Oh, just leave it here.
I want it, you see, and I thought it divine.
But to steal it’s not good, for this egg here is mine!’
But the farmer heard nothing but ‘cluck cluck cluck cluck’
And so poor old Molly had very bad luck.
The egg that she loved was soon taken away
And she cried and she moped and she sighed with dismay.
Her dear cousin Polly could do what she cared.
Her eggs in the forest were safe, they were spared.
She rolled them around and she had so much fun
And then she could eat them when playtime was done.
So while Polly was happy, poor Molly was sad.
The egg was her own and to steal it was bad.
She was vexed with the farmer and said ‘it’s not right
To take this wee thing that gave me such delight’.
Molly’s friends all came by to ask what was wrong
And she talked to them sadly and sang them a song
About how she had wanted that egg for her own
And had wished that this farmer would leave it alone.
But one of her friends had a bit of advice:
‘Molly, just lay another. The farmer is nice.
He has taken one egg; he won’t want any more
And you can have yours like you did once before.’
She then laid a brown egg the very next day,
But the same fate befell: it was taken away.
She sat in her nest, her head under her wing
For she couldn’t believe such a terrible thing.
And every new day, this unfairness befell:
She laid a fresh egg; each was taken as well.
Though the farmer was kind to her he couldn’t see
That her eggs are for her, not for him, you or me.
One day the Jones family happened to pass
And saw Molly digging for worms in the grass
And they noticed a sign on the side of her pen
saying ‘Please give a home to this weary old hen’.
They talked to the farmer and asked what was wrong
And he said that poor Molly just didn’t belong.
She didn’t lay eggs now as much as she could;
She was getting too old; her work was no good.
The Joneses brought poor Molly back to their farm
And they told her that she had no need for alarm
As all of the hens who now lived there were free
To use their own eggs; they would just let them be.
And Molly had dust baths and played in the sand
And made lots of friends on that day like she’d planned.
And the very next morning she got out of bed
And laid a white egg at the side of the shed.
The children approached with a basket that day
So she left her new egg and she wandered away.
She knew what had happened to all eggs before
So she left it there lying beside the shed door.
The children then laughed and they called out her name
And she walked back towards them and heard them exclaim
‘Oh, Molly, don’t worry. We’ve brought you a treat:
Some corn and some carrots and pieces of wheat’.
They petted and scratched her and fed her that day
Then took up the basket and went on their way
And left her the egg! How she strutted and played.
She had been so concerned; she had been so afraid.
But these children were vegan: they knew it’s not right
To take what’s not yours. So Molly, that night,
After playing around with her egg all the day
Cracked the shell with her beak and she feasted away.
Now Molly is pleased she can keep what she owns
And she’s happy to live with the family Jones.
For they talk to her sweetly and pet her with care
And every new egg is just left for her there.
We should always be thoughtful and always be kind
And always remember that we all would mind
If the things that we loved could be taken away.
Deal justly with others. It’s the only way.
Go vegan today and please show that you care;
To take what is not ours is really not fair.
Our animal friends are not things we can use:
They have minds and can think; they prefer and they choose.
To be vegan’s to say ‘they’re not mine; they’re their own.
I respect them and I want to leave them alone.’
Remember these words, and note that they’re true:
They live for themselves, just like you live for you.