February 23, 2009

Never Mind the Pussycat 'This exhibit focuses on a brief period of Lear’s youth. Beginning when he was still an adolescent, until he was twenty-five, Edward Lear worked as a natural history illustrator. During this period, he created some of the most extraordinary images of birds ever made.'

More of Lear's parrot and other natural history illustrations at the ever-wondrous BibliOdyssey and the Academy of Natural Sciences.

  • Wonderful. What a lovely, talented man he was. Did you know he taught Queen Victoria to paint? Not that she was a great painter, but she wasn't that bad - probably the best ever British Royal painter.
  • The webpage appears to be borked for me--what I can see is beautiful, though. Lear will always be the "Owl and the Pussycat" for me.
  • What a delightful surprise! Lear's images verge on portraiture--the personality of each bird comes through vividly. I'd like to spend some time studying each one closely; it's clear he loved what he was doing.
  • Your main link contains a link to a limerick contest page. How can you make a post in which your main link contains a limerick competition and not at least mention it on the "more inside" section? And why have I not written a limerick to better voice this complaint?
  • Molly, who sold mussels and cockles, had a parrot much like bernockle's. She would wheel her barrow through streets broad and narrow, while the bird would squawk at the yokels.
  • There once was a young man named Lear Who said "Birds don't like artists, it's clear. When I told them to pose, One nibbled my nose, While the others built nests in my beer."
  • Natural Enemies all day the owl is dreaming of a crow, dreaming of a crow, dreaming of a crow and his war caw rushing through the pines, and the owl opens her mouth as if to say wait, wait until nightfall, until nightfall when the crow’s own blackness is not enough to hide him from her keen eyes. all night the crow is dreaming of an owl, dreaming of an owl, dreaming of an owl and battle screech so close it could run through his dark body and sever his spine. his mouth moves in silence: wait, wait until daybreak when the owl’s gray camouflage cannot protect her from the murders of crows. in twilight the owl and crow are praying to live, praying to live, praying to live the long hours of hunting. they do not fly nor tempt the other into the unowned time and orange territory of conflicted light. they bide, bide in their pine churches with their psalms to a god who would favor their feathers over the other’s. --J. P. Dancing Bear
  • One of the most well-known crow poems: Crow's Fall by Ted Hughes When Crow was white he decided the sun was too white. He decided it glared much too whitely. He decided to attack it and defeat it. He got his strength up flush and in full glitter. He clawed and fluffed his rage up. He aimed his beak direct at the sun's centre. He laughed himself to the centre of himself And attacked. At his battle cry trees grew suddenly old, Shadows flattened. But the sun brightened— It brightened, and Crow returned charred black. He opened his mouth but what came out was charred black. "Up there," he managed, "Where white is black and black is white, I won."
  • Dailiness It is the birds who call me back to the world Animation of sparrows among arbor vitae branches in my morning dash with the dog Brief glimpse of geese crying their ragged way across sky as I wait in traffic Waxwings busy stripping the small red crabapples beside my office building's door Crows calling after me as I leave, pay attention, pay attention, pay attention To what is slipping away. --Robin Chapman
  • Is that the Ted Hughes who wrote The Iron Man (made into the animated movie The Iron Giant)?
  • Yes. English poet laureate. Was married to American poet, Sylvia Plath who committed suicide by putting her head in a gas stove, then several years later, his lover killed his young daughter and herself in the same way. He appears to have been a right SOB. I'll let the professors argue about separating the poet from the work. I sympathize more with Plath's life, yet I don't enjoy her poems as much as his. Her poetry is powerful, but dark. His observance of nature is what I enjoy. Some say she was the better poet. *shrugs*
  • Miss Child calls her brown wood owl Ruth, because her sister, Mrs Rivers, objects to her first choice, Eve. After missing their last train home, Miss Child, Mrs Rivers and Ruth stay at a cheap hotel by London Bridge. They have no luggage, just the owl. Miss Child and her married sister get no sleep at all because of Ruth's noisy hooting. Miss Child tucks Ruth up the sooty chimney, then in front of the mirror, then finally, in weary despair, at the centre of a circle of lit candles, to trick Ruth into thinking it is sunlight. No chance. Back into her basket goes Ruth. But she soon bursts out and wings round the room for angry hours, whoo whoo whoo. At first light, Miss Child wakes up a waiter, asks for some live mice. Ah, this is a mistake. --Penelope Shuttle, "Miss Child's Owl"
  • Echoing Canto of the Gleaners (Inferno) Galahs and corellas comb the paddocks after harvest. They concentrate around field bins, pick at liminal edges of chaff piles. Here, they scratch away at mountainsides of air and fiber, a second winnowing. Collapses aren't rockfalls or mudslides, avalanches or shifting sands. What shifts is outside the Euclidean-shapes shift and separate, some sliding down around the ankles of birds, some shapes extravasating into the air and floating out. Beaks and tongues separate from soul, from body, what hasn't been re-winnowed and dispersed. Fanning out, gleaning elsewhere in the stubble, galahs and corellas protract windrows: they don't walk paths laid out for harvest, picking wherever chaos has showered grain, gleaning against the system, which would pick every ear clean if it were perfected. --John Kinsella
  • Dems some good boid poms, bees! A Barred Owl Richard Wilbur The warping night air having brought the boom Of an owl’s voice into her darkened room, We tell the wakened child that all she heard Was an odd question from a forest bird, Asking of us, if rightly listened to, “Who cooks for you?” and then “Who cooks for you?” Words, which can make our terrors bravely clear, Can also thus domesticate a fear, And send a small child back to sleep at night Not listening for the sound of stealthy flight Or dreaming of some small thing in a claw Borne up to some dark branch and eaten raw.
  • Flamingo Watching Wherever the flamingo goes, she brings a city’s worth of furbelows. She seems unnatural by nature— too vivid and peculiar a structure to be pretty, and flexible to the point of oddity. Perched on those legs, anything she does seems like an act. Descending on her egg or draping her head along her back, she’s too exact and sinuous to convince an audience she’s serious. The natural elect, they think, would be less pink, less able to relax their necks, less flamboyant in general. They privately expect that it’s some poorly jointed bland grey animal with mitts for hands whom God protects. --Kay Ryan
  • That poem really knocked me over!