Poetry Unearthed By Legitimate, For Real, Authentic Poetic Research (Now With Facts!)

What was before a Chicken or Egg?

I despise April Fools Day.

A completely arbitrary mark on the calendar, used to justify telling outrageous lies and spreading often galling misinformation. And for what?  Just to make others feel stupid?  To exploit their trust in us?  To laugh at how foolish they must be to ever take at face value something we – their friend, family, colleague, newspaper, government, or scientific body – have told them.

Clearly the only real fool is anyone stupid enough to take the hard-earned faith of their fellow human beings and toss it in the trash for a cheap gag.  You’d have to be a shameless, self-destructive narcissist to do anything so glib and facile.

So anyway, apropos of nothing, I did some research on the weekend, and found a heretofore undiscovered poem by the iconic Romantic poet, John Keats.

Yeah.  That happened.  Why not?*

Like his poem ‘Bright Star’, said to have been discovered in the front cover of Keats’ collection of Shakespeare’s poems, I tracked this one down in his thoroughly dogeared copy of 101 Chicken Jokes for Transcendently Tortured English Poets (3rd edition).

I include it here without alteration, including his haunting postscript.

Let history make of this bombshell what it will…

On Looking Into Why Everything Tastes Like Chicken

by John Keats

Oft have I sought to roost in solemn dark,
to scratch for seeds and preen a lyric phrase,
Only to wake, my nests dissolved away.
A nightingale? A Grecian urn? A star?
What was all that about? What drunken haze
Sought ‘truth’ in chirps, space gas, and lumps of clay?
But lo – at last – a vision clears the strife:
two-legged waif, a symbol left unuttered,
Eternal, fowl conundrum: Which came first?
We, the cockerel’s dame, ripe with sunlit life,
Poised upon the threshold of the gutter,
Designed to fly, but doomed to walk the earth.
O chicken – ruffled, squat pedestrian!
Thou knowest where to cross; not why. Not when.

Signed, John Keats

And yes, I am the real John Keats – the one who wrote ‘Ode on Melancholy’ and all that stuff. So anyone who finds this poem should probably be given a Nobel Prize in Literature, or something.

And also a Playstation 4.)

He was a true visionary.

John Keats by William Hilton

IMAGE: Sony Fan Boy John Keats by William Hilton the Younger (National Portrait Gallery London)

* Because facts.

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