Feb 13, 2013

THE OSPREY AND THE CORNETFISH, WITH STEPHEN CRANE

Here is an osprey lunching on a long, skinny blue fish with a ridiculously long nose and bulging eyes. It’s a blue cornetfish. He’s usually a brownish-grey color with bright turquoise spots, but like the chameleon, he changes colors to blend with his environment. So I’ve decided this guy is imitating the sky because he knows he’s going to cornetfish heaven when the osprey gets full or takes the one bite that finishes everything. The osprey himself is a gorgeous animal. I think of him as a swamp eagle—maybe I heard that or maybe I made it up. In any case, he’s a great soaring bird, a fisher. The blue of the cornet fish is also beautiful, but he’s otherwise one of those ocean oddballs. He’s interesting because he’s odd, yet how seriously can we cheer for those alligator eyes and snout? Also, he feeds on other fish, not plants. Once again I offer Stephen Crane’s odd and chilling little poem, a poem that encourages modesty: A Man Said to the Universe by Stephen Crane : The Poetry Foundation And speaking of eating flesh, here again is Crane again with “In the desert”: In the Desert by  Stephen  Crane  : The Poetry Foundation *

14 comments:

altadenahiker said...

Partly because of the poem itself, and partly because of the events in my turf this week, it reminds me of Camus:

“It was as if that great rush of anger had washed me clean, emptied me of hope, and, gazing up at the dark sky spangled with its signs and stars, for the first time, the first, I laid my heart open to the benign indifference of the universe.

To feel it so like myself, indeed, so brotherly, made me realize that I'd been happy, and that I was happy still. For all to be accomplished, for me to feel less lonely, all that remained to hope was that on the day of my execution there should be a huge crowd of spectators and that they should greet me with howls of execration.”

Banjo52 said...

Oh, I like that. Longing for execration--that's strong stuff. Which book is it from? He and the other Continentals are not my strong points.

George Saunders, one of your guys if I recall, got a glowing review in NY Times Book Review a week or two ago. "December Tenth." Think I'll buy it.

-K- said...

Up until this very moment I have been completely ignorant of the cornetfish.

(I'm going to guess that Karin's quote is from "The Stranger" but my Camus days are long behind me."

WAS said...

Interesting to think of the similarities between Crane and Camus: hopelessly out-of-place but totally of-their-times heroic tubercular Scorpio rebels who died tragically young talking to their last breaths about that old divine indifference of the universe (as Camus tagged it in The Stranger). It doesn't seem to me though that that osprey is dealing with indifference divine or otherwise (nor are humans for that matter in their daily carnivorousness with less obvious pride in their awesomeness). Great shots, in other words, and I always like Crane, one of my very favorite poets, being brought into the conversation. I'll go to bed thinking about gnawing a blue sky heart now, though.

RuneE said...

First a compliment on your bird photography!

Second the first poem gave me some immediate associations, slightly contradictory:
Isaac Asimov's short story "The last question" and a feeling of hopelessness.

For the second poem, I wonder if Crane meant the last line to be interpreted as:
“And because it is MY heart.”

Hannah Stephenson said...

Those are some creepy but terrific poems. So few words occupying such a space of intensity...

The osprey is beautiful. But I'm still rooting for that cornetfish...poor little weirdo!

Banjo52 said...

K- me too. Believe it or not, I googled skinny, blue fish (or something like that) and got plenty of photos. Amazing, this internet biz.

K and Bill, I was guessing The Stranger, but I was just reading between the lines of the quotation. I don't even recall whether it was that or The Plague that I read eons ago.

Bill and RuneE, thanks on the photos. RuneE, that's the way I hear "my," but the stress could just as easily fall on "heart."

Hannah, I found the scene curiously disturbing. I can say "Yeah, Yeah" to Nature's cruelty, but witnessing it is another matter. And I'm getting downright defiant about anthropomorphism. After all, I AM a human; it's pretty natural that I'd project human thoughts and feelings, isn't it? How do I NOT think of the cornetfish as the skinny kid with bug eyes who got laughed at on the playground? How is the osprey NOT the star halfback?--or here, the savage middle linebacker? Of COURSE that's not RIGHT, that's not ACCURATE, but . . .

Thanks, folks.

Ken Mac said...

Wow, stunning photos. And Karin's poem reference....

Stickup Artist said...

I'm a bit off my game lately, but I did want to comment on your photos. They are so intense; startling. Just look at the gaze on the third one down! Pretty awesome.

Banjo52 said...

Ken and Stickup, thanks. Thanks be for zoom lenses.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Kelly said...

...fantastic photos of the osprey, and what a unique fish. I know next to nothing about fish...love his chameleon ability! I didn't know fish could do that. He definitely morphed into a lovely shade of blue.

Banjo52 said...

Kelly, it was all news to me. The source I found (can't remember it) seemed almost as impressed by cornetfish as I was.

Lovers' Lane