Tag Archive | Rilke

choosing your parrot’s vocabulary

So, now I have a parrot.  Its name is Crow.  Crow used to be a very interesting conversationalist, but all Crow Parrot can (will?) say is “WHERE ARE YOU GOING.  HELLO.”

Odalisque sits at her desk.  “WHERE ARE YOU GOING.”

Odalisque steeps her tea.  “WHERE ARE YOU GOING.  HELLO.”

Odalisque leaps to the window when Hawk or Black Swan or anybird, anybird at all, blessedly arrives in the window to save her from Crow.  “WHERE ARE YOU GOING,” says Crow.

“Hello,” says my bird guest friend.  “HELLO,”  squawks Crow.  Shut up Crow!  I don’t know where I’m going.  I’m in an obelisk for solstice’s sake, and it was a lot of work to get up here.   (as portrayed in my movie.)  Leave me alone!

Despite the fact that I did not choose Crow’s vocabulary, Owl, in an attempt to be helpful, brought me this:  Things to keep in mind when choosing your parrot’s vocabulary.

1. Avoid Profanity.

Profanity is the use of profane language, and profane language is that which is not concerned with religion, unholy because not consecrated, or that which debases what is holy.   I was once considered profane, especially as compared to, say, a Madonna.  So perhaps I should not try to teach Crow my name, The Odalisque.

2. Stay away from “catch phrases”

It’s always cute when talking birds chime in with something to say, but you want to make sure that what you teach them won’t get old or annoying after a while.

I take a book from my bed and flip the pages.  How about:

I would like to step out of my heart, and go
walking beneath an enormous sky.

or

From you to you I go commanded.  In between
the garland is hanging in chance; but if you
take it up and up and up look!  All becomes festival!

or

For beauty is nothing but the beginning of terror,
which we still are just able to endure.

or

If drinking is bitter, change yourself to wine.

or

Is love: a murderer without a knife?

or

She moves the way clocks move.

I can’t imagine even lovely, ravenous phrases  could preserve their dewy hunger if repeated as often as Crow says “Where are you going.”    If I teach poetry, will Crow use it sparingly, with the wisdom & ken to perfectly brim a fine distillation into each moment’s goblet?

3. Think long-term!

There are many things that will remain constant in your bird’s life, and these are often the best sources for inspiration when trying to decide on the types of words and phrases that you’d like to add to your bird’s vocabulary.  For example, your or your birds name…

CROW!  squawks my parrot.  ODALISQUE ODALISQUE ODALISQUE!  No Crow, you can’t say that it is profane.  OBELISK OBELISK OBELISK!  Nor do I want to encourage any creature in my care to believe that anything in its life is constant.  OCEAN OCEAN OCEAN.  UNIVERSE UNIVERSE UNIVERSE.  No Crow, all is in constant creative & destructive flux.  MATTER MATTER ENERGY!  MATTER MATTER ENERGY!  I do not know, crow.  I do not know.  It is best to assume all, all will pass but nothingness, from which materiality and warmth may inevitably emerge.

4. Choose songs/music wisely

It’s best to select songs that are “classics.” Popular choices for many bird owners are nursery rhymes like “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star”, and various oldies from the 50’s and 60’s.

This guidance is very intriguing.  It reminds me of Beckett who imagined mothers squatting to birth babies into their graves.  Nursery rhymes & oldies…everything in between is tedium.

Twinkle twinkle little star how I wonder what you are, up above the sky so high.  Like a diamond in the sky…

Crow before he was parrot would definitely have thought of the stars as diamonds, and coveted one for his stash.  But Owl would bring us a book on astronomy, show Crow that the stars are luminous bodies of charged particles held together by gravity and fueled by thermo-nuclear fusion, and that would have been that for everybody but Phoenix who would know, as if in ecstatic vision, the nature of heaven.

True singing is a different breath, about
nothing. A gust inside the god.  A wind.

5. Avoid alarming phrases.

Even if it seems like a humorous thing to do, there is a genuine risk that your bird could incite a fair level of panic given the right situation.

There are so many things that should incite a fair level of panic, but fail to.  Related to number 3 above, perhaps I should teach Crow to regularly incite panic with words that remind me of my impermanence.

WHERE ARE YOU GOING WHERE ARE YOU GOING.  HELLO.

Oh, hermetic Crow.  Even as parrot, you outpace me.

Be ahead of all parting, as though it already were behind you, like the winter that has just gone by. For among these winters there is one so endlessly winter that only by wintering through it will your heart survive…

…To all that is used-up, and to all the muffled and dumb creatures in the world’s full reserve, the unsayable sums, joyfully add yourself, and cancel the count.

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–The Odalisque

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(all bold text  from Stephen Mitchell’s translation of Rilke)

conversations with birds: the phoenix favors fire over earth

I do not fear the terrible angels

their voices embroidered cloaks torn across

the sky, their heavily belted bodies,

strong hips, shield-bright eyes.

I do not fear them in the hard city.

Their draperies snag on its remote spires.

They drone in its unnavigable sky

like helicopters.

The angels I fear are mute

their wings waxy as aster petals

their bodies translucent carapace

curled grub-like in flight.

They don’t descend to the deathbed

swords drawn to the rift: death from life.

They hatch, insensate as seeds in

fresh turned earth.

 

What they require of me? 

that gently I take off

the look of suffered wrong

which often a little hinders

the pure movement of their spirits.

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