Louisa May Alcott

Here you will find the Long Poem The Lay of a Golden Goose of poet Louisa May Alcott

The Lay of a Golden Goose

Long ago in a poultry yard 
One dull November morn, 
Beneath a motherly soft wing 
A little goose was born. 

Who straightway peeped out of the shell 
To view the world beyond, 
Longing at once to sally forth 
And paddle in the pond. 

"Oh! be not rash," her father said, 
A mild Socratic bird; 
Her mother begged her not to stray 
With many a warning word. 

But little goosey was perverse, 
And eagerly did cry, 
"I've got a lovely pair of wings, 
Of course I ought to fly." 

In vain parental cacklings, 
In vain the cold sky's frown, 
Ambitious goosey tried to soar, 
But always tumbled down. 

The farmyard jeered at her attempts, 
The peacocks screamed, "Oh fie! 
You're only a domestic goose, 
So don't pretend to fly." 

Great cock-a-doodle from his perch 
Crowed daily loud and clear, 
"Stay in the puddle, foolish bird, 
That is your proper sphere," 

The ducks and hens said, one and all, 
In gossip by the pool, 
"Our children never play such pranks; 
My dear, that fowl's a fool." 

The owls came out and flew about, 
Hooting above the rest, 
"No useful egg was ever hatched 
From transcendental nest." 

Good little goslings at their play 
And well-conducted chicks 
Were taught to think poor goosey's flights 
Were naughty, ill-bred tricks. 

They were content to swim and scratch, 
And not at all inclined 
For any wild goose chase in search 
Of something undefined. 

Hard times she had as one may guess, 
That young aspiring bird, 
Who still from every fall arose 
Saddened but undeterred. 

She knew she was no nightingale 
Yet spite of much abuse, 
She longed to help and cheer the world, 
Although a plain gray goose 

She could not sing, she could not fly, 
Nor even walk, with grace, 
And all the farmyard had declared 
A puddle was her place. 

But something stronger than herself 
Would cry, "Go on, go on! 
Remember, though an humble fowl, 
You're cousin to a swan." 

So up and down poor goosey went, 
A busy, hopeful bird. 
Searched many wide unfruitful fields, 
And many waters stirred. 

At length she came unto a stream 
Most fertile of all Niles, 
Where tuneful birds might soar and sing 
Among the leafy isles. 

Here did she build a little nest 
Beside the waters still, 
Where the parental goose could rest 
Unvexed by any bill. 

And here she paused to smooth her plumes, 
Ruffled by many plagues; 
When suddenly arose the cry, 
"This goose lays golden eggs." 

At once the farmyard was agog; 
The ducks began to quack; 
Prim Guinea fowls relenting called, 
"Come back, come back, come back." 

Great chanticleer was pleased to give 
A patronizing crow, 
And the contemptuous biddies clucked, 
"I wish my chicks did so." 

The peacocks spread their shining tails, 
And cried in accents soft, 
"We want to know you, gifted one, 
Come up and sit aloft." 

Wise owls awoke and gravely said, 
With proudly swelling breasts, 
"Rare birds have always been evoked 
From transcendental nests!" 

News-hunting turkeys from afar 
Now ran with all thin legs 
To gobble facts and fictions of 
The goose with golden eggs. 

But best of all the little fowls 
Still playing on the shore, 
Soft downy chicks and goslings gay, 
Chirped out, "Dear Goose, lay more." 

But goosey all these weary years 
Had toiled like any ant, 
And wearied out she now replied 
"My little dears, I can't. 

"When I was starving, half this corn 
Had been of vital use, 
Now I am surfeited with food 
Like any Strasbourg goose." 

So to escape too many friends, 
Without uncivil strife, 
She ran to the Atlantic pond 
And paddled for her life. 

Soon up among the grand old Alps 
She found two blessed things, 
The health she had so nearly lost, 
And rest for weary limbs. 

But still across the briny deep 
Couched in most friendly words, 
Came prayers for letters, tales, or verse 
From literary birds. 

Whereat the renovated fowl 
With grateful thanks profuse, 
Took from her wing a quill and wrote 
This lay of a Golden Goose.