Thursday, February 19, 2009
"Extinct" Bird Rediscovered, Then Eaten / The Ghost of Poetry
A story up on the blog Cryptomundo tells of this Worchester's buttonquail, an animal thought extinct, captured by a hunter in the Philippines, photographed, and then sold to a poultry market. Cryptomundo, naturally, laments the waste of the bird: "What if this were the last specimen of its species?" That is indeed a horrifying thought. My own mind, having gone there, then makes a metaphoric leap: the buttonquail shares the fate of poetry in our culture, a rare, possibly extinct thing--once it is found, it is first sold, and then eaten, probably as the appetizer course of an inconsequential lunch, quickly forgotten: except insofar as, once eaten, poetry again assumes its status as an absence, lamented and valued only as something to be lamented.
Meanwhile, of course, real poetry flourishes in the cultural underbrush, ignored and therefore invisible no matter how multitudinous its brood.