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Illustrated London News Darwin
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Below is a modern poem on Darwin and his pigeons 
by kind permission of Anne Bryan

He watched men take a pigeon in the hand
examine feathers, beak, each feature traced
in their mind's eye, each new potential scanned,
the offspring judged, selected, each one placed
appropriately in pies or breeding schemes.
Men homing in to make their dreams come true
bewildering varieties of dreams -
white fantails, tumblers, pigeons racing through
the dynasties of Egypt, Persia. Doves
to speed the news from bloody fields of war
to flutter strut and coo in courts of love
When Darwin's doves had fledged, like hopeful Noah
he launched them on the stormy sky to rove
and roost in places that he never saw

darwin victorian pics 22nd Jan 2009 029Bald and Be

  SURVIVAL OF THE FITTEST
By kind permission of Ruth Padel, a descendant of Charles Darwin, from Darwin - A Life in Poems {Chatto and Windus}

“I’ve sent ten thousand barnacles out
of the house and am sorting species notes.”
With Etty, he’s bred and dissected
a thousand pigeons, to demonstrate
they’re all descended from the same rock dove.

“Pouters,” “Tipplers,” lovely “Fan-Toes”:
white down on pink claws, pleats
of a ballerina curtseying the floor.

“Mortal illness in man due, no doubt,
to hereditary tendencies to disease,
which clear away the weak.” More -
 
was it because of him that Annie died?
“My dread is hereditary ill-health.
Are marriages between first cousins
doomed to deformity and illness? Effects
of inbreeding – only the fittest survive?”

Rock dove 1850''s web
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