Hey, Little Hen
Sophie Thompson and Alex Waldmann are the readers as we peck and scrape our way around the curious world of man's old friend the chicken, with readings from Geoffrey Chaucer, Robert Herrick, John Clare and P.G. Wodehouse, and music by Rameau, Mussorgsky, Saint-Saens, Lassus and many more.
Timings (where shown) are from the start of the programme in hours and minutes
A Glossary of Chickens
O Brother Chicken! Sister Chick!
Christina Georgina Rossetti
A white hen sitting
Clarice Lispector, translated by Elizabeth Bishop
The Hen (excerpt)
Love among the chickens (excerpt)
Cock-a-doodle doo!, or the Crowing of the Noble Cock Beneventano
Before the barn door crowing
Chaucer, translated by Nevill Coghill
The Nuns Priests Tale (excerpt)
Katharine Tynan Hnkson
The Last of the Sweet Bananas: New & Selected Poems
Song of the Battery Hen
Home to Roost
The Hen Ark
Heinrich Heine, translated by Charles Godfrey Leland
Hey Little Hen - Producer Note
Anyone who has ever kept chickens knows there are few things better in life than watching a hen. When the world’s troubles are getting you down, when the pressures of work seem heavy to bear, release comes when you stop what you are doing, find a hen, and watch it. Maybe you think there isn’t much to see. It may not even occur to you at first that you are doing it. But the little things it does – the struts, leg-lifts, feather-fluffs, comb-wobbles and jerking, sharp-eyed inspections of the ground – and the little noises it makes, from clucks and squawks to gentle, low-voiced murmurs, will nevertheless warm you and reassure you.
It turns out that the chicken is not hard to mimic in music, and in today’s programme many of these little movements are noted in pieces by Rameau, Uccellini, Saint-Saëns and Mussorgsky, as well as in Gary Whitehead’s poem A Glossary of Chickens and an extract from Clarice Lispector’s The Hen.
We also recognise mankind’s long relationship with these strange birds for the things they do for us – however unwittingly – from giving us their flesh and eggs to eat to waking us up in the morning. Chickens as food-source occur in Edwin Brock’s Song of the Battery Hen, Pete Seeger’s version of a traditional American lyric, and in the lighthearted songs Hey Little Hen and Chick Chick Chicken. And the raucous cockerel as herald of the dawn makes himself heard in extracts from Herman Melville, John Gay, Katharine Tynan Hinkson and Elizabeth Bishop, and music by Lassus and Rodrigo. That his puffed-up pride may lead to a fall – as it can for all of us – is the thrust of Chaucer’s Nun’s Priest’s Tale, and his sexual appetite is darkly suggested in The Rolling Stones’ famous version of Little Red Rooster.
Lindsay Kemp""Added, go to My Music