Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Marianne Szlyk writes

Birds in Summer

The hawk sweeps the sky,
searchlight in a slow arc
above abandoned houses,
above woods and cemetery,
over fresh graves and flowers.
Like a mouse on the ground,
a cat scuttles past in the heat.

The crow flies in a straight line
over parking lots and gingko trees
alike. He flies alone
beyond the cemetery.
The murder will not gather
or elsewhere.

Starlings fly low
in wedge-formation.
In sixes or sevens, they cut through
the yards of people without cats.
The calico cat waits at the window,
watching for the birds
she has heard but will not see.

 Murder of Crows
 Murder of Crows -- Aga Kubiak 
 'A Murder of Crows' painting in gouache with gold leaf, by Nancy Farmer, 2011
 A Murder of Crows -- Nancy Farmer

1 comment:

  1. "The Bokys of Haukyng and Huntyng; and also of coot-armuris" (usually referred to as "The Boke of Seynt Albans") was published in 1486 to guide “gentill men and honest persones" in the arts necessary to an English gentleman. (A second edition published a decade later added another treatise on angling.) Though highly derivative, it was the earliest treatise on heraldry written in English, and continued to be plagiarized for another two centuries; the earliest example of color printing in England (six colors, including black ink and the white of the page); and the last of eight books printed by the St Albans Press, the third printing press in England, established in 1479 in the Abbey Gateway, a part of the Benedictine monastery of St Albans. (The first press was set up by William Caxton at Westminster in 1476 to produce an edition of Geoffrey Chaucer's "Canterbury Tales;" he translated many works himself, thereby leading to wholesale transfers of French words into English, but nonetheless was largely responsible for standardizing various dialects into a single English language.) The essay on hunting was probably written by Juliana Berners, the Benedictine prioress of St Mary of Sopwell, near St Albans, one of the earliest female writers in English; the essay was a metrical version of Guillaume Twici's 14th-century French book "Le Art de Venerie." The book also appended a large list of "company terms," special collective nouns for animals such as a gaggle of geese, a crash of rhinos, a mischief of mice, a puddling of ducks, a pride of lions, and a murder of crows. (The list also inluded humorous collective nouns for different professions: a "diligence of messengers," a "melody of harpers," a "blast of hunters," "a subtlety of sergeants," and a "superfluity of nuns." Ever since the Greeks believed a crow perching on a roof was a sign that someone was about to die, crows have often been regarded as an omen of death and are thought to circle in large numbers above sites where animals or people are expected to die soon; as scavengers that pecked out the eyes of fallen ­soldiers, they are associated with death; they mob interloper crows to death; in folklore, crows gather to decide the capital fate of another crow. An old English rhyme insisted, "One means anger; two is mirth; three a wedding; four a birth; five is heaven; six is hell; seven is the devil himself.”


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