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The Wordsmith's Forge - Poem: "Whistling Girls and Crowing Hens"
The Writing & Other Projects of Elizabeth Barrette
Poem: "Whistling Girls and Crowing Hens"
Taking the lead for the shorter poem poll is "Whistling Girls and Crowing Hens," by happy coincidence the match for "A Doe in Velvet," exploring the aspect of girls who like boys but want a fair share of adventure. This poem was inspired by a prompt from kadiera and sponsored out of the general poetry fund for the April 7, 2009 Poetry Fishbowl.

The old saying quoted herein about "whistling girls and crowing hens" is real, and used to discourage girls from behavior that is perceived as masculine. It exists in assorted versions. Heh ... so I made a new one, in the end, with a different message.

Whistling Girls and Crowing Hens

Mothers cluck and grandmothers frown –
“Hush up your mouth! Let that skirt down!
Whistling girls and crowing hens
Will always come to some bad ends.”

Still they come on the market day,
Rowdy girls of a wild way,
Rucking up skirts to free their legs,
Swinging their baskets full of eggs.

Says Joan, “I’ve saved to buy a sword.”
“I’ll just rescue a handsome lord,”
Brit says, winking, her cheeks aglow.
Marian grins and strings her bow.

The years roll on, and not one weds,
Though sisters go to marriage beds.
Their mothers wail and cry, “What for?”
Then, hark – the distant horns of war!

Joan grabs her sword and steals a horse
To change the battle’s bitter course.
The men she leads are full of heart.
They slay the foe. Joan does her part.

Brit finds the kidnapped prince’s cell –
Six hens distract the guard dogs well.
She sets him free and off they fly.
He swears to wed her, by and by.

Wedding bells ring for King and Queen
As Mark and Brit walk up the green.
A traitor tries to steal the crown –
Marian’s there to shoot him down.

Joan weds a scout; Marian, too,
Chooses a soldier, brave and true.
Joan wears her sword upon the day;
Marian’s crowned with thorns of May.

Daughters come to them each in time,
Greeted in turn with this new rhyme:
“Whistling girls and crowing hens
Do more good than anyone kens!”

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Current Mood: busy busy

estaratshirai From: estaratshirai Date: April 14th, 2009 11:32 pm (UTC) (Link)
Hey, look! My childhood. :D
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: April 14th, 2009 11:35 pm (UTC) (Link)


Bits of mine too, of course. My mother was minimally inclined toward that sort of harangue, but my grandmother was more so.
estaratshirai From: estaratshirai Date: April 14th, 2009 11:38 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: *laugh*

My parents were too feministy to give me much hassle over it, especially since my mom was never that girly either.

Actually, I wanted both the frilly dress lace and the freedom to move and climb. If I'd known about male Edwardian dress then, I'd have been all over it.
belgatherial From: belgatherial Date: April 15th, 2009 12:03 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh, this is fabulous. Thank you.
jolantru From: jolantru Date: April 15th, 2009 12:05 am (UTC) (Link)
This is great stuff! :)
jenny_evergreen From: jenny_evergreen Date: April 15th, 2009 01:15 am (UTC) (Link)
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: April 15th, 2009 01:23 am (UTC) (Link)


I'm happy to hear that.
browngirl From: browngirl Date: April 15th, 2009 01:50 am (UTC) (Link)
Oooh, this needs a tune. There are girls I want to sing this to, and adults as well.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: April 15th, 2009 02:14 am (UTC) (Link)

Go for it!

Anyone is welcome to set my lyric poetry to music. This one being a ballad, it would be very easy to sing.
browngirl From: browngirl Date: April 15th, 2009 02:16 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Go for it!

Alas, I can't compose music. I can almost, almost hear the tune in your words, but I can't catch it to sing it, let alone write it down.

If I could, I'd be writing right now.
je_reviens From: je_reviens Date: April 16th, 2009 02:27 am (UTC) (Link)
but.... but.... they still are only justified because they were able to find a man to accept them.

thus only a man's approval can change their social status from pariah to acceptable. only getting married and having children, in the end, denies the "no good end" part of the maxim.

*shakes head*
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: April 16th, 2009 02:46 am (UTC) (Link)


... if that's what you get out of it, YMMV. It's not where I was aiming, though. These particular characters happen to like men, and the point of the poem is that it's possible to find a compatible mate without losing oneself. And they have the opportunity to raise daughters with a wider horizon. Not every strong woman has to be a loner or a lesbian.
haikujaguar From: haikujaguar Date: April 16th, 2009 10:24 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Hmm...

Not every strong woman has to be a loner or a lesbian.

I wish we didn't have to repeat these things.

But until we can stop, I'm glad you're writing poetry like this. :)
dark_blade From: dark_blade Date: April 17th, 2009 07:26 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Hmm...

Srsly. The choice should not be strength OR companionship.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: April 18th, 2009 02:03 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Hmm...

Yay! I'm glad that you grok this.
redfishie From: redfishie Date: April 17th, 2009 02:29 pm (UTC) (Link)
That is gorgeous.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: April 18th, 2009 03:55 am (UTC) (Link)

Thank you!

I'm glad you enjoyed it. I'm loving your icon, by the way.
marina_bonomi From: marina_bonomi Date: April 17th, 2009 04:07 pm (UTC) (Link)
Love it!And I'd really like to hear it set to music as well.

Thank you!
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: April 18th, 2009 03:45 am (UTC) (Link)

Thank you!

Who knows, maybe someone will decide to set it to music. That's happened a few times to my poetry. Most of my musician friends either write their own lyrics, or don't do vocals, alas.

By the way, I've added you to my Friends list. Your blog looks cool.
marina_bonomi From: marina_bonomi Date: April 18th, 2009 04:47 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Thank you!

I'll keep my fingers crossed that someone does, if I were a musician I'll offer to do it myself.

"Marian grins and strings her bow." that's so me. :-) I've been in love with bows since I can remember.

Thanks for friending me, reciprocated on the double. :-)
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: April 18th, 2009 07:28 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Thank you!

I've only had a few opportunities to explore archery in this life, but I enjoy it, and I'm pretty good at it. I can hit what I aim at -- not always the center circle, but usually the next one, from a reasonable distance. What would make me near-useless in the field is lack of strength. But if I can see the target and I'm close enough to get an arrow that far, I can usually hit it. I almost never miss the whole target, and I've had people be surprised about that. Well, sheesh, it's not moving. With a moving target, I miss somewhat more; I've tried that with laser guns and such. It's still fun, though.
_paegan_ From: _paegan_ Date: April 18th, 2009 12:19 am (UTC) (Link)
I'm proud and happy to have been a "whistling girl" and to be one that is growing into a "crowing hen".
22 comments or Leave a comment
Elizabeth Barrette
Name: Elizabeth Barrette
Back December 2014
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