Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Quote of the day

Much that is good and all that is evil has gathered itself up into the Western Gull. He is rather the handsomest of the blue-mantled Laridae, for the depth of color in the mantle, in sharp contrast with the snowy plumage of back and breast, gives him an appearance of sturdiness and quality which is not easily dispelled by subsequent knowledge of the black heart within. As a scavanger, the Western Gull is impeccable. Wielding the besom of hunger, he and his kind sweep the beaches clean and purge the water-front of all pollution. But a scavanger is not necessarily a good citizen. Call him a ghoul, rather, for the Western Gull is cruel of beak and bottomless of maw. Pity, with him, is a thing unknown; and when one of their own comrades dies, these feathered jackals fall upon him without compunction, a veritable Leichnamveranderungsgebrauchsgesellschaft. If he thus mistreats his own kind, be assured that this gull asks only two questions of any other living thing: First, "Am I hungry?" (Ans., "Yes.") Second, "Can I get away with it?" (Ans., "I'll try.")

William Leon Dawson, in Birds of California (1923)

Which reminds me of a poem I wrote once while waiting for a ferry in Australia ...

“First Precept of Food Webs”

Dark-eyed vulture with one question—
Do I have food?
In the eyes of the Great Spirit I am only that.
I am not yet edible,
and the vulture flies away.

Steve Trombulak (2000)

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