Elizabeth Gould’s Spangled Drongo (Dicrurus bracteatus)

Goulds spangled drongo

after Bonny Cassidy

red eye – effulgent deprecation
— talons this high bare
alien vine, tumid bulbs
distant cumulo-nimbus – a storm across the page later
forest, creek line, the Timor sea in casual wash
insects rising in the heat
fish-tail to starred-breast
the bird leans
watches intently
watches
still.


Image: (detail), Gould, J. The Birds of Australia in Seven Volumes (1848) c/- Trove, National Library of Australia. Bonny Cassidy’s wonderful poem Gould’s Resplendent Trogon is published in certain fathoms, Puncher and Wattmann Poetry. And for students of Australian vernacular, here’s the story of the racehorse who never won in 37 starts but gave us the idiom that persists today; nothing to do with the bird. Elizabeth (Gould’s wife) produced the illustrations for his encyclopaedic works as well as six children and died aged 37 years.  The Australian Dictionary of Biography suggests: “…the strain of motherhood, together with the executing of approximately 600 drawings for publications, had sapped her vitality.”

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