... dove in mid-moan in immemorial antenna
... bee in mid-murmur
|June 21, 2004|
I daresay that you are probably familiar with the bitter complaint of the late poet laureate Lord Alfred Tennyson - or rather, Alfred, Lord Tennyson - regarding wildlife noises around his own particular habitat. You likely had his memorable complaint foisted upon you in school as a particularly stunning sample of assonance and alliteration (i.e., a succession of similar sounds in a sentence - or is that metonymy?):
"The moan of doves in immemorial elms
Alfred, of course, was writing to the local municipality to see if he could have the nuisance abated. One pictures the palsied poet poised piteously upon a pastoral pallet, while pain and anguish wracked the brow, and outside the window (or "casement") there is this incessant moaning and murmuring, won't you know it.
The murmuring of innumerable bees".
It is purely circumstantial and particularly felicitous for us, his posthumous following, that the doves were not roosting in, say, poplars, or apple or poui trees. I suppose he could have then altered the first line to: "The purring of partridges in perpetual pouis", but even though he'd have gotten a rhyme with bees, it still lacks the polish and finish of the original, doesn't it?
One can only speculate on how Alfred would have coped with a present-day metropolitan setting. ("The siren scream of ceaseless urgencies, the clatter of accumulating trash"?) or living in downtown Baghdad ("A storm of death from machine-gunning Hercs, the booming of innumerable bombs"). On the whole, posterity was best served by his more peaceful sojourn in Camelot-like surroundings.
The only reason I bring up these literary allusions at all, is to say that, it so happens that like the above-mentioned bard, I too more or less cohabit with a covey of cooers and crooners. They lodge covertly in a minor copse abaft our street, a sylvan col, to coin a phrase; and as we lack elms hereabouts, they perch in immemorial TV antennae and do their memorable moaning there. I am dashing a copy of this off to the City, to see if some elms could be installed on our street.
Elmless in Gaza at the mill with slaves.