Blogging The Bird
Before you wonder if I’m in a rotten mood, I’m not – I’m just in a weird one today, thinking about my friend Kat.
I started my online reading today by a story that caught my eye – a dog frozen on a railroad track was rescued. From there my attention span flew south, and somehow Emily Dickenson’s “Hope is the thing with feathers” became stuck in my head. Woody Allen took a different spin and used the word “Life” to lead his diatribe, but admire the old perv’s writing as I do, that’s for another blog. Today’s blog is for the birds.
There’s giving the bird, a little bird told me, Bye, Bye, Birdie, Four-and-twenty-Blackbirds, and The Birdman of Alcatraz. Did you know that giving the bird dates back over 2500 years, for instance? The story of Caligula’s assassination was interesting.
When the Romans imported the art, music, and culture of the Greeks, the finger came along, too. Roman Emperor Caligula, a pioneer in perversity, frequently shocked his citizens by forcing them to kiss his middle finger instead of his hand. One of his subjects, Cassius, who Caligula often taunted as being too effeminate, finally had enough humiliation and assassinated him. Clearly, the bird was not to be taken lightly.
As for “a little bird told me”, this is what I tracked down:
A LITTLE BIRD TOLD (WHISPERED TO) ME - "One scholar suggests that this familiar saying may have originated with the similar-sounding Dutch expression Er lif t'el baerd, which means 'I should betray another.' More likely the idea behind the phrase is in the noiseless flight of a bird, reinforced by a biblical passage from Eccles. 10:20: 'Curse not the kind, no not in thy thought.for a bird of the air shall carry the voice, and that which hath wings shall tell the matter'." From "Encyclopedia of Word and Phrase Origins" by Robert Hendrickson (Facts on File, New York, 1997). ".The earliest form of the saying was included in John Heywood's collection of proverbs (1546). In 1583, Brian Melbancke wrote in 'Philotimus'" 'I had a little bird, that brought me newes of it.' In 1711, in 'Letter to Stella,' Jonathan Swift came close to the current version: 'I heard a little bird say so.'." From "Random House Dictionary of Popular Proverbs and Sayings" (1996) by Gregory Y. Titelman (Random House, New York, 1996).
A little bird told me. This "little bird" implies a secret or private source of knowledge. Most authorities believe in a Biblical origin, found in Ecclesiastes 10:20 which includes "for a bird of the air shall carry the voice, and that which hath wings shall tell the matter".
There is an alternative explanation involving King Solomon. All the birds of the air were summoned to him but the Lapwing did not appear. Later the Lapwing explained that he had been with the Queen of Sheba and that she had indicated that she intended to visit Solomon. The King began to make preparations for the visit; in the meanwhile the Lapwing flew to the Queen and told her that the King had a great desire to see her. As history records, such a meeting did take place, but the role of the Lapwing is less clear.
Robert Stroud, The Birdman of Alcatraz, used to fascinate me as a child. That a murderer with such a violent past found his calling in prison and became one of our foremost experts on birds…well, it was intriguing. Stroud’s life sounds like one Zig Ziglar might illustrate during his motivational talks. Stroud might have been one of those people whose real talents could have made him a fortune and fostered an exemplary life without crime had he been more interested in Tweety than Tootsie back when he was pimping.
One of the strangest bird stories I’ve read involves a little old man who has been called a bird whisperer—he literally gets rid of birds without harming them, freeing up major cities where birds dive bomb pedestrians and stink up the town.
If you’d like a reason why my attention turned to the birds today, all I can offer is that it started with that canine-lover chick flick I watched over the weekend that Doug hated. “Must Love Dogs”. Then today I saw where that poor dog was frozen to a railroad track, and the segue began.
At least I didn’t bore you with “the same ole thing” today, so if you’re just gonna grouch about it, find a Sylvester & Tweety cartoon to cheer you.
…till next time…Happy Birthday to Kat, one of my dear Capricorn friends who is battling chemo for liver cancer – she just beat colon cancer, so we’re hopeful. Knowing her, she’ll give it the bird just as she did before.
And now I’ve come full circle. Have a great week, everyone.