A magpie made a ballad, to magpie music set
Sung in the magpie lingo, and methinks I hear it yet.
Here is a free translation out of the magpie tongue
For those not taught that language at school when they were young.
“The hens begin to lay, hurrah! I hear their cackling shout,
The hens begin to lay, hurrah! the hens are laying out.
I like an egg for breakfast, and for dinner two or three
In fact they’re prime at any time and very sweet to me.
Yon loud-mouthed hen talks far too much and fills me with distress
I wish she’d shell a little more and yell a little less.
Yon housewife hates to find me afluttering near her flocks,
For I’m her enemy No. 1 and No. 2’s the fox.
When e’er she sees me coming she runs with both her legs,
The housewife’s greatest nightmare is a magpie sucking eggs.
I hope she will not put her hens in concentration camps,
With all newfangled gadgets, like dropping boards and lamps.
I would not put it past her, she’d love to see me starve,
When glutted gets the markets, she’ll get what she’ll deserve”
Michael Mullin, ‘THE BARD OF FOREMASS’
Foremass Lower, Sixmilecross, Co. Tyrone.
Footnote:At a time when all hens were out in the farmyard and some fields around the house, they would lay out in their own nests in the ditches and hedges. A hen always cackles after she lays and the woman of the house would know when a hen laid out and would try to get the egg before the magpie.