Wandering Albatross

The Albatross

Sometimes, to entertain themselves, the men of the crew
Lure upon deck an unlucky albatross, one of those vast
Birds of the sea that follow unwearied the voyage through,
Flying in slow and elegant circles above the mast.

No sooner have they disentangled him from their nets
Than this aerial colossus, shorn of his pride,
Goes hobbling pitiably across the planks and lets
His great wings hang like heavy, useless oars at his side.

How droll is the poor floundering creature, how limp and weak —
He, but a moment past so lordly, flying in state!
They tease him: One of them tries to stick a pipe in his beak;
Another mimics with laughter his odd lurching gait.

The Poet is like that wild inheritor of the cloud,
A rider of storms, above the range of arrows and slings;
Exiled on earth, at bay amid the jeering crowd,
He cannot walk for his unmanageable wings.

— Baudelaire, L’Albatros
(translated by George Dillon in Flowers of Evil : Harper and Brothers, 1936)


No, itís not that too many albatrosses have been shot by marinersí crossbows, or that they have all fallen prey to the sport of sailors; but it is the case that 100,000 albatrosses die each year on fishing hooks. That is one every five minutes. They are being killed in such vast numbers that they can’t breed fast enough to keep up. This is putting them in real danger of extinction.

You can do something about this needless slaughter. Visit www.savethealbatross.net and help save the albatross.

No more albatrosses, no more poems about albatrosses.