strange behaviors

Cool doings from the natural and human worlds

  • Richard Conniff writes about behavior, in humans and other animals, on two, four, six, and eight legs, plus the occasional slither.

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D.H. Lawrence on Jabbing, Terrifying Monsters

Posted by Richard Conniff on April 15, 2011

The hummingbirds are just starting to migrate back to New England.  You can read about their fierce, frantic lives in my book Swimming with Piranhas at Feeding Time.   And while you are waiting for your copy to arrive, this perfect, unsentimental poem by D.H. Lawrence seems like the right way to celebrate:

Humming Bird

by D.H. Lawrence

I can imagine, in some otherworld
Primeval-dumb, far back
In that most awful stillness, that only gasped and hummed,
Humming-birds raced down the avenues.
Before anything had a soul,
While life was a heave of Matter, half inanimate,
This little bit chipped off in brilliance
And went whizzing through the slow, vast, succulent stems.
I believe there were no flowers, then,
In the world where the humming-bird flashed ahead of creation.
I believe he pierced the slow vegetable veins with his long beak.
Probably he was big
As mosses, and little lizards, they say were once big.
Probably he was a jabbing, terrifying monster.
We look at him through the wrong end of the long telescope of Time,
Luckily for us.

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