what if – part 13…


Important! (especially if you’re Tom) Don’t read below until you’ve formed your own idea of the image.

OK here’s my theory… The birds of the island are suffering from some kind of environmental malady which causes them to lose the ability to fly. The Brogga-dan-oan are trying to help. They recognize that flying is a joyous thing for the birds so when they first see signs of the illness, they catch them and take them flying/walking. Otherwise, within a few days, the birds would fall – likely into the ocean – becoming food for fish. The Brogga-dan-oan are trying to figure out what is causing it and restore flight to the ones who have lost it… but this is just one option – we’ll see if Tom comes up with some completely different reason for the strange goings on a-shore a volcanic island…

and speaking of volcanoes (and apropos of a comment my cat typed the other day) check out “How to name a volcano“!

UPDATE: The new poetic instalment is now in the comments and is quite a different take on the plot than I had been thinking – I’m sure you’ll find it intriguing!

image (cc) 2010 Hilary Farmer

4 thoughts on “what if – part 13…

  1. “Whatever could cause such a wonderful scene?
    Birds flying in cages? What could it mean?”

    “We asked their great leader, once we’d properly met,
    and he told us the tale in the light of sun-set:
    The birds were once captives in a far-distant city,
    ’til one flew away and evoked Brogga pity.
    For once the Dan-oan had been held as slaves
    until they escaped and crossed the long waves
    to found their encampment on this rocky isle
    that recently formed from volcanic bile.
    The island was empty, a barren black waste
    so birds would be welcome to come add a taste
    of colour and song to the empty landscape,
    the Brogga-dan-oan would aid their escape!”

    “How brave of those people! How just and how right!”
    said Cindy-Lou to the stranger later that night
    as he kept her amused with his on-going tale
    of the Brogga-dan-oan who set out and sailed
    across the great ocean to rescue the birds,
    brought them back to the island in flocks and in herds.

    “The boats couldn’t take all who wanted to go
    so they built flying-cages to soften the blow
    of the wide ocean’s winds while easing the weight
    of the huge birdy cargo they carried as freight.

    “Now at the dawn of each Freedom Day
    they open the cages, let the birds fly away.
    We’d happened to see their festival morn
    when they remember that moment of freedom reborn.”

    “How lucky they are to fly without care!
    And how I do wish I too could be there!”

    “You’ll be soon enough, if you answer the call,
    for the birds and the Brogga are threatened now, all,
    by the very same slavers who once held them down:
    they’ve discovered the island and circled it round!”

    Copyright (C) 2010 Tom Radcliffe


    It’s obviously been some time since the birds came to the island, as it has had time to develop some greenery!

    For those following the process of creation from home: I wrote Hilary my thoughts on this image before reading hers. Part of the fun in this process is seeing our different interpretations of the same material.

    The image of birds in captivity is from Aristophanes “The Birds”:

    LEADER OF FIRST SEMI-CHORUS: I hear it proclaimed everywhere: “A talent for him who shall kill Diagoras of Melos, and a talent for him who destroys one of the dead tyrants.” We likewise wish to make our proclamation: “A talent to him among you who shall kill Philocrates, the Struthian; four, if he brings him to us alive. For this Philocrates skewers the finches together and sells them at the rate of an obolus for seven. He tortures the thrushes by blowing them out, so that they may look bigger, sticks their own feathers into the nostrils of blackbirds, and collects pigeons, which he shuts up and forces them, fastened in a net, to decoy others.” That is what we wish to proclaim. And if anyone is keeping birds shut up in his yard, let him hasten to let them loose; those who disobey shall be seized by the birds and we shall put them in chains, so that in their turn they may decoy
    other men.

    I highly recommend the play if you ever get a chance to see it produced (it was put on at Stratford a few years ago, and it’s produced in summer stock every now and then.) The humour is as coarse and broad as in any Old Attic Comedy, but it’s more accessible than most and the sense of pity for the plight of birds that it evokes is remarkable and eerie in the feeling of closeness it creates to people who lived 2500 years ago.

    1. Wow! A lot of territory covered here!! The story is really starting to progress 🙂 I am glad you took it in another direction than I had originally thought – lots of fertile ground for images!!

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