Archæology

The assorted finds of Artefact Publishing

The truth about chickens

Ever since I was exposed to cocks crowing at the monastery, I have wondered why there is a belief that they crow at dawn. These creatures crow any time they feel like it, and there are those which wake before dawn. So I’m glad that this truth is reflected in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (Fitt IV, lines 2006–2010):

The leude lystened ful wel that ley in his bedde,
Thagh he loukes his liddes, ful lyttel he slepes;
Bi uch kok that crue, he knewe wel the steven.
Deliverly he dressed up, er the day sprenged,
For there was lyght of a laumpe that lemed in his chambre;

[Tolkien’s translation: Long the knight listens as he lies in his bed; though he lays down his eyelids, very little he sleeps: at the crow of every cock he recalls well his tryst. Briskly he rose from his bed ere the break of day, for there was light from a lamp that illumined his chamber.]

Testify, Gawain! Noisy buggers – the cocks I heard were not actually in the monastery at all, but in the not-entirely-nearby villages. Of course, we all got up long before they did, which is how I know their habits. I have yet to hear the one which lives across the street from me now, except during the day.

Update: Shortly after writing this entry I heard a ruru (morepork) hooting outside my window, which was quite lovely.

Posted by jamie on August 15, 2005 20:56+12:00

Comments

Yeah, we used to have all day noisy roosters. Also quite viscous, one of my friends ended up with some nasty scratches down her back as she ran away from one... We ended up going for English game fowl and bantam silkies - seem to be quiet and docile. But the neighbours cocks still crowed all day. It's interesting, that idea of the cock crowing three times has become quite a powerful image, one of the images from bible stories that seems to have significance in non-Christian circles. I wonder how chooks have been domesticated. Apparently they are jungle birds. *wanders over to wikipedia*

Posted by: fi on August 21, 2005 18:19+12:00