Thursday, September 4, 2014

Enchanting hummingbirds

A color plate illustration from Ernst Haeckel's Kunstformen der Nature
(1899), showing a variety of hummingbirds.  

Hummingbirds are magical, spiritual, and ethereal little creatures. It's a treat to see them in our gardens, stopping for a sip of nectar by our blooming wisterias or butterfly bushes. They zip here... hovering in place with their fluttering wings moving in a figure-eight pattern... and then they zip there. They move so quickly that sometimes I feels though I have only just imagined them.

Humming Bird

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.

by D.H. Lawrence (from Birds, Beasts and Flowers, 1923)

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