Last week Roberta Harold of Montpelier sent us what she called “a piece of doggerel” that she had written and didn’t know what to do with — until she read Kevin J. Kelley’s “WTF” article about all the crows in Burlington [February 2]. Though she was under the impression Seven Days does not publish poetry, we assured her that we do, sometimes, and that we were going to publish hers because we liked it. Here’s her explanation:
“It came about because I was at a writing retreat with friends in an old farmhouse, where I saw a book on a shelf that I thought at first was titled Rudyard Kipling, but in fact said Backyard Birding. This was the resulting brainstorm.”
Backyard Birding With Rudyard Kipling
You may boast about your ’awks
An’ your mythologic rocs
An’ your barn and brindled, barred and spotted owl,
But from all I’ve come to know
Your common English crow
Is the reigning wise old emperor of fowl.
For your crow will find a way
To outlast a freezin’ day
An’ to live on what the others would disdain,
An’ he’ll only eat it dead,
Missing arm or leg or ’ead,
So ’e’ll never cause his dinner any pain.
An’ it’s caw, caw, caw!
As ’e swoops across the fields an’ farmers’ yards,
Where ’e does a lot of good
Cleanin’ dead ’uns for ’is food,
Though you’ll never ’ear ’im sung of by the bards.
For it’s nightingales, not starlings
Who turn up the poets’ darlings
With your darkling thrushes an’ romantic larks,
Who are sought across the land
With binoculars in hand,
From the briny seashores to the London parks.
An’ it’s caw, caw, caw!
As the sky turns black with flappin’ flocks o’ crows,
Makin’ wing to rooky woods,
Never up to any good,
From the viewpoint of their prejudicial foes.
To profess a taste for corvids
Is considered some’at morbid,
Since the days of Edgar Poe’s unliftin’ gloom —
As a long-term indoor guest,
I admit ’e’d be a pest,
Leavin’ guano stains about the sittin’ room.
But give that bird ’is due,
For ’e cleans up arter you,
An, unlike some others, doesn’t beg for feed,
An’ ’e’s faithful all year long
As ’is scratchy, croaky song
Breaks the deadly silence of a winter mead.
For it’s caw, caw, caw!
As they swoops across the snowy woods an’ fields,
In a murder or unkindness
As they’re labeled by the mindless,
On a quest for yet another rotten meal.
Now your clever crow don’t care
An’ it’s none o’ his affair
If the humans think the other birds superior,
For ’is virtue lies within,
So, no more than Gunga Din,
Don’t you judge ’im by his sooty black exterior!