Animal Poems

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

The Owl Critic


Who stuffed that white owl?" No one spoke in the shop;
The barber was busy, and he couldn't stop;
The customers, waiting their turns, were reading
The Daily, the Herald, the Post, little heeding
The young man who blurted out such a blunt question;
Not one raised a head, or even made a suggestion;
And the barber kept on shaving.
"Don't you see, Mister Brown,"
Cried the youth with a frown,"
How wrong the whole thing is,
How preposterous each wing is,
How flattened the head, how jammed down the neck is--
In short, the whole owl, what an ignorant wreck 'tis!"
I make no apology;I've learned owleology,
I've passed days and nights in a hundred collections,And cannot be blinded to any deflectionsArising from unskilful fingers that failTo stuff a bird right, from his beak to his tail.
Mister Brown, Mister Brown!Do take that bird down,
Or you'll soon be the laughing stock all over town!"
And the barber kept on shaving."I've studied owls,
And other night fowls,And I tell youWhat I know to be true!
An owl cannot roostWith his limbs so unloosed;
No owl in this worldEver had his claws curled,
Ever had his legs slanted,Ever had his bill canted,
Ever had his neck screwedInto that attitude.
He can't do it, because'Tis against all bird laws.
Anatomy teaches,Ornithology preaches,
An owl has a toeThat can't turn out so!I've made the white owl my study for years,And to see such a job almost moves me to tears!"
Mister Brown, I'm amazedYou should be so crazedAs to put up a bird
In that posture absurd!To look at that owl really brings on a dizziness;The man who stuffed him don't half know his business!"And the barber kept on shaving."Examine those eyes,I'm filled with surpriseTaxidermists should passOff on you such poor glass;So unnatural they seemThey'd make Audubon scream,And John Burroughs laughTo encounter such chaff.Do take that bird down;Have him stuffed again, Brown!"And the barber kept on shaving."With some sawdust and barkI could stuff in the darkAn owl better than that.I could make an old batLook more like an owlThan that horrid fowl,Stuck up there so stiff like a side of coarse leather;In fact, about him there's not one natural feather."Just then with a wink and a sly normal lurch,The owl, very gravely, got down from his perch,Walked round, and regarded his fault-finding critic,(Who thought he was stuffed) with a glance analytic,And then fairly hooted, as if he should say:"Your learning's at fault, this time, anyway;Don't waste it again on a live bird, I pray.I'm an owl; you're another. Sir Critic, good-day!"And the barber kept on shaving.

-James T. Fields-


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