Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Library of America Story of the Week Read-Along 15: Robert Frost, The Original and Only (#160)

Robert Frost, "The Original and Only" (1903) from Robert Frost: Collected Poems, Prose, & Plays:
In the common heroism that is my hallmark, I resist making jokes about poetry and poultry. But before he was a published poet, Robert Frost was a published author of poultry-stories. According to the page introducing this story, Frost wrote 10 stories for poultry newspapers between 1903-5. The story here is more a character sketch of a cautious but optimistic poultry-farmer. Once he bought a fancy hen, spending rather a lot considering his conservative nature; but that hen was not only physically remarkable, but laid eggs more frequently than other hens. This all gave the farmer the idea of gathering data on the egg-laying habits and breeding his chickens to produce more eggs.

That all might sound pretty ordinary and it is. But I didn't tell you the best part of this story: it's short. Well, that and the farmer's mix of feelings is interestingly shown in his monologue, as his excitement and optimism over maybe breeding a 300-egg hen mixes with his caution and close-mouthed nature.

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