The Parlement Of Foules

Also known as, amongst other titles, The Parliament of Birds, is a poem by Geoffrey Chaucer. It is in the form of a dream and contains the first reference to the idea that St Valentine's Day is a special day for lovers. My mother always used to say that it was the day the birds got married. I've enjoyed researching this. In the poem the eagles have to settle on a mate before the lowly birds can follow suit. The female eagle isn't sure which suitor to choose and this causes hissing, whistling and heckling from the lowly birds anxious to mate. The turtle dove appeals for patience and she gets a good belly-quack from the ducks. When Nature offers all the bird back-benchers a chance to speak, the clucking and squawking over the best choice for mate reaches parliamentary proportions. She steps in to impose the only possible solution: the female eagle must choose her valentine as she thinks fit; and of course, she can't make up her mind. This causes a riot of sexual anxiety among the other birds, but when Nature grants them leave to make their choices anyway, they leave happy -- and in a hurry. 

I love it. It prompted me to make the above collage of some of the birds that I've encountered today at home and at Amwell Nature reserve. My parliament consists of top to bottom left to right, cormorant, dunnock, male reed bunting, marsh tit, deceit of peewits, Canada goose, female blackbird, little egret and mallard.

Today's other poem is Valentine by Wendy Cope.

From the sublime to the ridiculous. It might be a triolet - an old French form, but it doesn't do it for me.

PS Our family is delighted because my French niece gave birth to a little girl the other day, her name is Valentine. :)

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