Thursday, December 01, 2011


Avicide and Homicide

"I'd sooner, except the penalties, kill a man than a hawk," wrote Robinson Jeffers in his poem Hurt Hawks, although by the end of the poem the injured hawk is dead, killed by Jeffer's bullet.

This line came to mind when I read the following passage from MacKinlay Kantor, Andersonville (1955), chapter IX:
Strangers came to the mill—new people, usually, who had just taken up land in the vicinity—and they heard that Eben was by way of being an ornithologist. That's interesting, boy. Have you got a lot of them stuffed? Eben stared, horrified at the idea. He thought that he might be able to shoot a human being if Fate required it of him, but was positive that he could kill no bird.
Yet in chapter XXII the would-be ornithologist, Eben Dolliver, now starving in a prisoner-of-war camp, catches, kills, and devours a swallow.

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