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Phoebe Cary

The Chicken's Mistake

A little downy chicken one day

Asked leave to go on the water,

Where she saw a duck with her brood at play,

Swimming and splashing about her.

Indeed, she began to peep and cry,

When her mother wouldn't let her:

"If ducks can swim there, why can't I;

Are they any bigger or better?"

Then the old hen answered, "Listen to me,

And hush your foolish talking;

Just look at your feet and you will see

They were only made for walking."

But chicky wistfully eyed the brook,

And didn't half believe her,

For she seemed to say by a knowing look,

"Such stories couldn't deceive her."

And as her mother was scratching the ground,

She muttered lower and lower,

"I know I can go there and not get drowned,

And so I think I'll show her."

Then she made a plunge where the stream was deep,

And saw too late her blunder:

For she hadn't hardly time to peep

Till her foolish head went under.

And now I hope her fate will show

The child, my story reading,

That those who are older sometimes know

What you will do well in heeding.

That each content in his place should dwell,

And envy not his brother;

And any part that is acted well

Is just as good as another.

For we all have our proper sphere below,

And this is a truth worth knowing:

You will come to grief if you try to go

Where you never were made for going.