Sunday, July 31, 2016

Robert Verdon, #224, Death and the Mynah

We are driving down David St O’Connor when we see a knot of mynah ‛pest’ birds in our path.
I beep the horn and they fly into the air briefly to let us through. 
Then we realise they have been clustered about an inert mynah face-up in the middle of the road. 
Has there been a fight? Were they about to dine?
Or like elephants and ourselves, do they recognise the dead?


Twa Corbies (trad.)

AS I was walking all alane
I heard twa corbies makin' a mane:
The tane unto the tither did say,
Whar sall we gang and dine the day?

‛— In behint yon auld fail dyke
I wot there lies a new-slain knight;
And naebody kens that he lies there
But his hawk, his hound, and his lady fair.

His hound is to the hunting gane,
His hawk to fetch the wild-fowl hame,
His lady’s ta’en anither mate,
So we may mak our dinner sweet.

Ye’ll sit on his white hause-bane,
And I’ll pike out his bonny blue e’en:
And wi’ ae lock o’ his gowden hair
We’ll theek our nest when it grows bare.

Mony a one for him maks mane,
But nane sall ken whar he is gane:
O’er his white banes, when they are bare
The wind sall blaw for evermair.


  1. I like this Robbie. If you'll forgive me I will post a poem on the same topic I wrote last year.

    Two Killed Birds

    Two killed birds
    and neither with a stone

    The first a half grown dove
    flings itself with such force
    at the patch of glassy blue beyond the window
    that with the rebound
    after the shock of impact and the cascading break of tiny bones
    the reflection on the other side seems for a moment
    to hover successful in its escape
    until it falls
    and the bird with it on to the verandah boards
    and twitches and is still

    The butcher bird arrives within seconds
    to sit innocent upon the rail
    marvelling perhaps at such an easy self inflicted kill
    then goes about his work

    The second is a crow

    on a square of concrete
    in the hotel car park
    under the bright of the afternoon sun
    a crow lies on its back
    motionless and open eyed
    in a spreading pool of blood

    Above two more caw
    in the palm tree and one on the light pole

    despite the fashionable slimming black
    it is shocking how big it is up close
    as big as a baby

    The five on the tree and street light
    at a distance of several metres
    look small in comparison
    though their calling is as loud as a siren

    The witness who saw it fall
    swears it was pushed
    and perhaps the noise of the eight above
    is a trial or a hasty making up of alibis
    but it seems unlikely

    it was a grown and handsome bird
    full of gloss and besides
    the complex fugue of the ten crows
    cawing from the tree and the light pole
    is much more like a lament

    a plausible scenario of a car clip
    during a swooping cross of the busy road
    and a momentary landing
    in the palm tree before the fall
    might explain the blood and the twenty now
    in the tree and on the bar of the light pole
    filling the rising air with sound
    and then feathers

    on a square of concrete
    in the hotel car park
    under the bright of the afternoon sun
    a crow lies on its back
    motionless and open eyed
    in a spreading pool of blood
    and all around
    silence now rings its bell

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  3. Thanks Mikaela,Rob. Your poem is wonderful, Mikaela. I always think animals (including birds) are much more intelligent than most of us believe.


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