Chickens come home to roost…….



The idea of bad deeds, specifically curses, coming back to haunt their originator has long been established in the English language and was expressed in print as early as 1390, when Geoffrey Chaucer used it in The Parson’s Tale:

Such cursing deprives a man  of  the Kingdom of God, as says Saint Paul. And oftentimes such cursing returns again upon the head of  him that curses, like a bird that returns again to its own nest.

Or for those closet Medieval English scholars out there…..And ofte tyme swich cursynge wrongfully retorneth agayn to hym that curseth, as a bryd that retorneth agayn to his owene nest. 

Chickens didn’t enter the scene until the 19th century when a fuller version of the phrase was used by the historian, linguist and poet  Robert Southey,  as an inscription on the title page of his terminally dull and seemingly endless poem about the adventures of a Hindu rajah, ‘The Curse of Kehama’ (1810):

Curses are like young chickens, they always come home to roost.


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