By an offer of unlimited ship’s biscuits.
By a miracle the bird survived the crew’s curiosity
And their wondering if it tasted delicious.
After it had lived out its life in England
A taxidermist was called when it died.
He stuffed it and, to retain its luxuriant plumage,
Cunning preservatives were applied.
Its first owner in its afterlife was John Tradescant,
Who passed it onto Elias Ashmole,
Since when this comical but salutary creature
Has become a curator of the earth’s soul.
For through it man’s begun to learn that extinction
Can last for the rest of time
And thus cherish an inhabitant of paradise whose life
Was ended by a carnivorous crime.
A Dutch sailor, Volkert Evertsz, described the bird
As showing concern for its fellow creature:
“When I held one, he cried and others ran forward
To help the bird that was held prisoner.”
In ‘Wonderland’ the Dodo’s portrayed as benign
Given its invention of a ‘caucus race’
In which everyone entering ends up winning
And is accordingly is then given a prize.
People say that something’s “as dead as a Dodo”
As if relishing the Dodo’s demise,
Yet it lives on as an innocent victim of that progress
That prefers sunset to a hopeful sunrise.
The Dodo may have died out from being too nice;
Large and flightless with an excess of trust.
Those who last saw it alive in the seventeenth century
Said the Dodo was friendly. And now it’s dust.
When it was alive it was briefly displayed in London
As part of an urban freak show;
In death it’s become a testament to the folly of mankind,
A less loveable laughing-stock than the Dodo.