January 12, 2007

Poetry Friday with Ian Serraillier

The Hen and the Carp
by Ian Serraillier (1912-1994)

Once, in a roostery
there lived a speckled, and when-
ever she laid an egg this hen
ecstatically cried:
'O progeny miraculous, particular spectaculous,
what a wonderful hen am I!'

Down in a pond nearby
perchance a fat and broody carp
was basking, but her ears where sharp --
she heard Dame Cackle cary:
'O progeny miraculous, particular spectaculous,
what a wonderful hen am I!'

'Ah, Cackle,' bubbled she,
'for your single egg, O silly one,
I lay at least a million;
suppose for each I cried:
"O progeny miraculous, particular spectaculous!"
what a hullaballoo there'd be!'


Ian Serraillier was an English author and poet who wrote often for children. His works are much beloved by many North American home schooling families, more for his retellings of classic tales and legends than for his adventure stories and poetry. After World War II, Mr. Serraillier and his wife established the New Windmill Series, published by Heinemann Educational Books, to provide inexpensive editions of good stories for children. Some of my Serraillier favorites, of the few that remain in print:

Escape from Warsaw (originally The Silver Sword); based on a true story, three Polish children and their parents in World War II are separated and struggle to reunite.

Beowulf the Warrior, reprinted by Bethlehem Books as part of their "Living History Library"

The Road to Canterbury, a reworking of Chaucer's tales


Updated to add that Kelly at Big A little a has the week's round-up here. Thanks, Kelly!

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