About parrots – “Him choke from prejudice”


  • See this post about a famous parrot in the literary world.
  • In Paul West’s Lord Byron’s Doctor (1989), J. W. Polidori writes, ‘He [Byron] never actually said Pretty Polly, but it was in his eye, all right, and I suppose I was a bit of a parrot when around him, aping his this and that or pretending that I, like he, could fall upon a chambermaid in some foreign town like a thunderbolt, after having borne the horn to do it with all the way from London, by stagecoach, packet, coach again.’ (p. 3)
  • Jean Rhys gives Antoinette Mason a parrot.
  • ‘If she [Ellen Terry] was shipwrecked abroad and returned to find George remarried, she would dance the sailor’s hornpipe and set up house with a parrot.’ –Lynne Truss’s Tennyson’s Gift (1996)
  • The tragic fate of the parrot in Derek Walcott’s play Pantomime (155-156):
JACKSON
(…JACKSON returns dressed as Crusoe–goatskin hat, open umbrella…. He throws something across the room to HARRY‘s feet. The dead parrot, in a carry-away box. HARRYopens it)
One parrot, to go! Or you eating it here?
HARRY
You son of a bitch.
JACKSON
Sure.
(HARRY picks up the parrot and hurls it into the sea)
First bath in five years.
(JACKSON moves toward the table, very calmly)
HARRY
You’re a bloody savage. Why’d you strangle him?
JACKSON
(As Friday)
Me na strangle him, bwana. Him choke from prejudice.
HARRY
Prejudice? A bloody parrot. The bloody thing can’t reason.
(Pause. They stare at each other. HARRY crouches, titles his head, shifts on his perch, flutters his wings like the parrot, squawks)
Heinegger. Heinegger…. You people create nothing. You imitate everything. It’s all been done before, you see, Jackson. The parrot. Think that’s something? It’s from The Seagull. It’s from Miss Julie. You can’t ever be original, boy. That’s the trouble with shadows, right? They can’t think for themselves…. So you take it out on a parrot. Is that one of your African sacrifices, eh?
  • The parrot in Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe:
The map below, published in Serious Reflections during the Life and Surprising Adventures of Robinson Crusoe: With his Vision of the Angelick World (London, 1720), depicts “Robinson Crusoe’s Island”. The parrot which takes the central place is speaking the words, “Poor Robinson Cruso”.
Bob W. said: After Monty Python, it is difficult to take one’s dead parrots seriously.
I said: Thank you, Bob, for reminding me of that sketch!


I particularly liked the various expressions used to refer to the state of the parrot: ‘It’s not pining, it’s passed on. This parrot is no more. It has ceased to be. It’s expired and gone to meet its maker. This is a late parrot. It’s a stiff. Bereft of life, it rests in peace. If you hadn’t nailed it to the perch, it would be pushing up the daisies. It’s rung down the curtain and joined the choir invisible. This is an ex-parrot.’
Mark said: Mark said: Would that be the South American macaw, or the African grey variety? (The latter are much better talkers.) ;)
-B

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