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This poem is taken from PN Review 117, Volume 24 Number 1, September - October 1997.

The Starling's Complaint Bernard O'Donoghue

Life, they say, 's a battlefield; and I, for one, don't doubt it.
From every garden in the land my kind and I are routed,
Even by ornithologists who lower their field-glasses
When we come into focus. Crowd of solemn, lunch-packed asses!

There are birds that people write about and birds that they
throw sand at:
Just like the Manichean split between the vole and land-rat.
It's fashion simply; that is all. That's simply all there's to it,
Like cultivating liking for a toadstool or a blewit.

Look in the book: my wing's magentaish - cf. the pigeon.
My feather is as ink-black as the blackbird's. Yet the widgeon-
Watcher growls when I approach, and then goes mad about a peewit.
What's so great about the nightingale? I'm sorry, I can't see it.
It's like writing on Piers Plowman or on Hoccleve or Duns Scotus,
Or translating medieval verse and signing it Ignotus,
Which should surely win us standing or acceptance with the best of them.

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