Thursday, 25 January 2018


I love wild birds and as usual at this time of year I am feeding them, getting them used to coming into the garden in anticipation of the RSPB's Big Garden Birdwatch this weekend. I have recorded sightings in my garden for this project since I first heard about it ten years ago. I enjoy the hour with binoculars, sitting at my dining table, looking out of the window. I am often honoured with unusual guests on the feeders or the birdbath that was a wonderful gift from my son for my birthday last year. He also bought me a clock for Christmas with a garden bird at every hour. It makes me smile.

There are so many superstitions surrounding birds. A blackbird in the house is supposed to forewarn of a death. A white feather in your path is supposed to be a sign that your guardian angel is watching over you. A friend of mine found a mess of feathers in his driveway one day, then spotted a Peregrine Falcon devouring their former occupant a little further away.

I have told you before about my childhood fascination with Samuel Taylor Coleridge's poetic saga, The Rime of The Ancient Mariner, and unfortunate sailor who shot down the albatross who followed the ship and the curse that fell upon the crew, leaving them becalmed at sea with no hope of rescue.

And the good south wind still blew behind,
But no sweet bird did follow,
Nor any day for food or play
Came to the mariners' hollo!

And I had done a hellish thing,
And it would work 'em woe:
For all averred, I had killed the bird
That made the breeze to blow.
Ah wretch! said they, the bird to slay,
That made the breeze to blow!

Coleridge is the inspiration for my own poem this week.

The Feather’s Curse

In Xanadu, great Kubla Khan
A pleasure dome decreed.
He filled it with exotic plants
And birds with plumage never seen,
Of paradise and humming birds,
Parakeets and cockatoos,
Toucans and flamingos,
Macaws and peacocks blue.

And in this song filled aviary,
The Princess Aroonee
Would sing the sweetest songs on earth
In perfect harmony.
She was the purest in the land,
The brightest shining star.
Her true love was her childhood friend,
The handsome Kookamah.

But in the land of Xanadu
There lived an evil man,
A sorcerer as powerful,
As the mighty Kubla Khan.
Darkness crowded round him,
Light perished where he stood,
Vanity and pride possessed him,
He had not one gram of good.

He wanted to usurp the kingdom,
To surplant his bloodline there,
His plan was to seduce Aroonee,
Produce an all-powerful heir.
He knew the princess loved the birdsong,
Came to the dome to sing each day.
Dressed in vivid peacock feathers,
Disguised he waited for his prey.

He preened his glorious feathers,
Peformed a mating dance,
Flashing amethyst and emerald,
Waiting for his wicked chance.
But Aroonee’s love for Kookama,
Was pure as mountain dew,
She rebuffed the sorcerer’s advances,
Declaring her heart true.

The evil wizard was confounded,
Jealousy ripped his soul apart,
From his tail he drew a peacock plume,
And plunged its quill into Aroonee’s heart.
Her dying scream pierced the airwaves,
rippling across the land,
She spoke her breathless, dying curse,
As Kookamae struttedHe strutted held her hand.

Aroonee’s fate became a legend,
Her story travelled far and wide,
The cursed peacock cries her dying scream:
Its feathers never brought inside.

Thanks for reading, Adele.


Steve Rowland said...

Very good to see you back on the blog. I know these are trying times for you.

This was most interesting. When I was a kid growing up in Africa we had a peacock as a pet - better than any guard dog, I was told.

Binoculars at the ready for the week-end.

Anonymous said...

So that's the legend. I never knew. Great poem.