Tuesday, May 12, 2009


Heart's Balm

E.M. Forster, A Passage to India, chapter 8:
"Do you know what the name of that green bird up above us is?" she asked, putting her shoulder rather nearer to his.
"Oh no, Ronny, it has red bars on its wings."
"Parrot," he hazarded.
"Good gracious no."
The bird in question dived into the dome of the tree. It was of no importance, yet they would have liked to identify it, it would somehow have solaced their hearts.
Forster himself in a note identified the bird as the Common Iora (Aegithina tiphia), but Prasanta Das, "'The Common Iora' in A Passage to India," Notes and Queries 43.1 (March 1966) 54-55, observed that Forster was mistaken, as the Common Iora has white bars on its wings, not red bars.

Related post: The Desire for Knowledge and the Names for Things.

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