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Young, George, 1938- / Bird of paradise: poetry
(2011)

The bird of paradise,   pp. 11-12


Page 11

The Bird Of Paradise
(from notes found in Linnaeus's desk
after his death, 1778)
This rare avian species is footless
but unimaginably beautiful:
its head a satiny yellow,
throat a patch of iridescent green,
breast, back and wings russet...
and emerging from under its wings, long gold plumes
fanning out behind like streamers from the sun.
The Dutch explorer, Van Linschoten,
has made extravagant claims:
that having no feet this bird cannot roost
so lives only in the ether of heaven,
perpetually on the wing...
the female breeds by laying its eggs
in a pink cavity on the male's back...
it drinks directly from clouds,
catches high blown insects from the air...
11


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