Guy Wetmore Carryl

The Precipitate Cock and the Unappreciated Pearl

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A rooster once pursued a worm
That lingered not to brave him,
To see his wretched victim squirm
A pleasant thrill it gave him;
He summoned all his kith and kin,
They hastened up by legions,
With quaint, expressive gurgles in
Their oesophageal regions.

Just then a kind of glimmering
Attracting his attention,
The worm became too small a thing
For more than passing mention:
The throng of hungry hens and rude
He skilfully evaded.
Said he, "I' faith, if this be food,
I saw the prize ere they did."

It was a large and costly pearl,
Belonging in a necklace,
And dropped by some neglectful girl:
Some people are so reckless!
The cock assumed an air forlorn,
And cried, "It's really cruel.
I thought it was a grain of corn:
It's nothing but a jewel."

He turned again to where his clan
In one astounding tangle
With eager haste together ran
To slay the helpless angle,
And sighed, "He was of massive size.
I should have used discretion.
Too late! Around the toothsome prize
A bargain-sale's in session."

The worm's remarks upon his plight
Have never been recorded,
But any one may know how slight
Diversion it afforded;
For worms and human beings are
Unanimous that, when pecked,
To be the prey of men they far
Prefer to being hen-pecked.

THE MORAL: When your dinner comes
Don't leave it for your neighbors,
Because you hear the sound of drums
And see the gleam of sabres;
Or, like the cock, you'll find too late
That ornaments external
Do not for certain indicate
A bona fide kernel.

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Guy Wetmore Carryl