May, 2016

The Internet

May 30th, 2016 13 Comments



I received a response from a young person to the post about the gopher snake. She mentioned a “green boa,” and taking that as a clue, given that people frequently use “boa” and “python” interchangeably, she lives either in South America (the emerald tree boa) or in the Pacific region that includes, primarily, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, and Australia (the green tree python). That geographic distance, either way, from my home in the southern Sierras of California in the US of A, struck me as extraordinary.

When I was a young child my father was in the Foreign Service and we lived in various European countries, broken by sojourns back in America. My parents were both inveterate travelers who loved to explore and learn—and teach their children—so in addition to the countries we lived in, we also traveled extensively to different regions of many other European nations.

Children are very non-judgmental, so I accepted as normal (which indeed they were) the many differences I observed. People spoke different languages; they spoke different dialects of those languages; they ate different foods; the architecture varied from nation to nation and from region to region within each nation; they dressed differently; different regions had specific costumes that would have allowed me to pinpoint precisely where I was even if I hadn’t known. In fact, there was a time when I could have been dropped blindfolded in any European country and known with my first glance exactly where I was, down to within a hundred kilometers at most.

Those differences have largely vanished from today’s world. Do any Frenchmen still wear the traditional blue smock of Flaubert’s time? Do Lederhosen still exist? Is Loden cloth still worn? I doubt very much that anyone, male or female, is alive in Holland today who has ever worn the traditional wooden clogs that are now a tourist symbol, but I have seen farmers in the fields wearing them. (Such wooden clogs were called, I believe, “klompen,” surely as onomatopoetic a name as was ever applied to anything.) I doubt rural Greek girls still wear the black dresses that were universal when I was there. Do Spanish farmers still carry their traditional leather wine botas, lined inside with tar that made all those raw and fiery wines taste the same:

Do you remember an Inn


Do you remember an Inn?

And the tedding and the spreading

Of the straw for a bedding,

And the fleas that tease in the High Pyrenees,

And the wine that tasted of the tar?


I could go on, but you get the picture. Today, the ubiquitous television has exposed the world, for better or for worse, to American conveniences and American fashions, and everyone wants to look as if they just strolled down Madison Avenue or Rodeo Drive. The angry French rioters I saw on this morning’s news look identical to the angry anti-Trump rioters I saw on last night’s news.

And now the internet is accelerating this process of homogenization. I am not passing judgement on whether this is a good thing or a bad thing, though I could argue that if one accepts the loss of a wild species, the snow leopard or the Javan rhinoceros, say, as tragic, why are the losses of ethnic and regional differences not also tragic? Is homogenization always desirable? Evolution drives everything and man, with his opposable thumb and propensity for creating and using tools, has moved technological evolution forward at bewildering speed, but every gain means something lost.

On the plus side, consider again that someone on the opposite side of the globe, or in another hemisphere, can identify with what I experience in these distant mountains. We only hate what we fear, and we only fear what we neither know nor understand, so every little tessera of shared experience counts for something positive. Even a gopher snake taking his ease on my front porch.

A Neighborly Visit

May 28th, 2016 15 Comments



In the country, neighbors sometimes just drop by unannounced and make themselves comfortable on the front porch. To put this gentleman (or lady) in perspective for you, the antique French bread rack is five feet wide, precisely sixty inches, making this by far the largest gopher snake I have ever seen, larger by about a foot than the one that, ah, shall we say, surprised me one day in the barn as I was unloading hay bales. I chanced to look up and a very large gopher snake was resting comfortably on a very narrow beam directly over my head, watching me work. Among other things, I told that particular snake I thought it ill-mannered of him to laze about watching me do the heavy lifting and not even volunteering to help.

This is a Pacific gopher snake, and according to my copy of The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Reptiles and Amphibians, they can grow as large as 100-inches in length, over eight feet. Five feet is plenty big enough for me. I mean, there’s no point in showing off.

Book Review: How the Irish Saved Civilization

May 15th, 2016 26 Comments



I missed this somehow. It was first published in 1995 and someone gave me a copy more than ten years ago, but I got distracted by other things, by life, which seems so frequently to get in the way of my plans.

Thomas Cahill’s subtitle for his book is: The Untold Story of Ireland’s Heroic Role from the Fall of Rome to the Rise of Medieval Europe. That’s accurate, but it tells you far less than the book offers. History can be little more than a dusty recitation of facts (I once had a professor of Greek and Roman history who could make me yawn until my jaw creaked) or it can be a magical transportation back across millennia, a process of bringing long dead worlds, long dead cultures, long dead people vibrantly alive again, and that process of resurrection takes both imagination and a capacity for telling a story. What a good historian does is approach his topic not solely as history so much as a tale to be told by a turf fire in a stone cottage on a dark and stormy night; in other words, a good historian transforms himself into an Irish seanchaí, and Thomas Cahill, son of Irish-American parents, knows his craft. And more than simply telling the tale, Cahill also provides a context for fifth-century Ireland that creates a mirror for today and tomorrow. All history is both mirror and signpost, but not all historians provide that context.

Part of Cahill’s skill lies in his ability to weave seminal figures (St. Augustine of Hippo, for example) together with people so obscure they almost—but not actually—qualify as fictional (his humorous extrapolation of character from a tiny thumbnail self-portrait of a scribe on a 1600-year old illustrated manuscript), using both to lay the foundation for historical facts and to give those facts life and interest. What do we actually know about Saint Patrick? Not much, based on what is traditionally considered to be historically factual, but when we search for the character of the man in his own writing, and compare that to what is known about him (birth, death, kidnapping, his life as a slave, seminal accomplishments, seminal failures—for failure can be both as instructive and revealing about a man as accomplishments) a portrait comes to life of a specific and compelling and very human saint, one about whom we long to know more.

And by bringing these men and these times alive, Cahill tells us about the extraordinary burst of creativity that occurred, improbably, on a remote island on the outer fringes of the known world, a burst of creativity that preserved both religious and secular classics, for the early Irish Christians seem to have been remarkably free of the religious prejudices of the Roman Catholic Church. Both the creativity and the lack of prejudice were due in part to St. Patrick, and in part to the Irish tongue, a Gaelic that has sadly almost vanished from the world, in large part due to the thousand-year long rapine and narrow-minded arrogance of the rulers of the British Empire. The Irish have always been known for their addiction to words and language and story-telling; perhaps the loss of Gaelic has diminished that somewhat, but then again, perhaps not. Consider some of the recent geniuses of Irish literature—William Trevor, Roddy Doyle, Sebastian Barry, Brian Friel, Maeve Binchy, Frank McCourt, John Banville, Seamus Deane, Iris Murdock… And those are just living ones whom I happen to have read. (Well, Iris Murdock has died, but I still count her as a current contemporary.)

There is one other living contemporary Irish writer who deserves mention here. Okay, okay, if you want to be a stickler for facts, Thomas Cahill was actually born in Queens and raised in the Bronx, but he clearly inherited an Irish love of words and how to put them together even as he relates past to present, and present to future. Remember that he wrote this back in the early nineties, and consider the following:

“Rome’s demise instructs us in what inevitably happens when impoverished and rapidly expanding populations, whose ways and values are only dimly understood, press up against a rich and ordered society. More than a billion people in our world today survive on less than $370 a year, while Americans, who constitute five percent of the world’s population, purchase fifty percent of its cocaine. If the world’s population, which has doubled in our lifetime, doubles again by the middle of the next century, how could anyone hope to escape the catastrophic consequences—the wrath to come? But we turn our backs on such unpleasantness and contemplate the happier prospect of our technological dreams.”

Black Lives Matter

May 11th, 2016 14 Comments


Black Lives Matter


I don’t usually reprint other people’s work on this blog, but I had an unusual concatenation of events not so long ago. I received an alumni bulletin from my alma mater, Beloit College (where I received an excellent education many years ago, for which I am very grateful), in which there was an article about the college working with a local Black Lives Matter group. This was followed very shortly after by a fundraising appeal from my alma mater. Both of these came during a period of several days when there was much news coverage of different angry Black Lives Matter marches and protests, in one of which marchers were chanting ugly things about law enforcement including, in one case, a chant that could be interpreted as a call to kill law enforcement. I decided not to send any money to my college.

Anyone who reads this blog knows that I am an ardent supporter of law enforcement, and that I have many friends who either are or were in some branch of law enforcement. Just to forestall the assumption that my white skin and privileged upbringing have sheltered me from anything but the most positive interactions with law enforcement, I should point out that my very first encounter with police occurred when I was nineteen or twenty and hadn’t even yet gotten a speeding ticket.

I had been suspended from Beloit for a year (girls dorm, vodka) and was using the time to work at a theater in Washington, DC. I was walking home very late one night when a squad car pulled up next to me and an officer vaulted out and body slammed me. I was handcuffed, frisked, and made to stand against a wall for about an hour while various officers showed up, questions were asked about my activities that night, where I had been and when, all of it in a manner that clearly indicated they thought I was a lying piece of vermin. Finally another squad car pulled up and a young lady stepped out and looked at me and told the officers, no, that’s not him. I was released with apologies and I thought no more about it. Mistakes happen.

I have had several other less dramatic but similar interactions with law enforcement over the half century since then, and my attitude about them is the same: mistakes happen.

The article that follows was written by Heather MacDonald, and if you are a supporter of law enforcement who believes, as I do, that Black Lives Matter is stupidly radical organization, made dangerous by their own stupidity, you will probably agree with most of what Ms. MacDonald has to say. If you are not a supporter of law enforcement, or if you believe Black Lives Matter is a valid and reasonable organization with a valid and reasonable point of view, I would like to make one observation:

You should never trust anything that you see or read in the news and especially not on blogs like mine.

CNN news

Do your own homework. Clearly, in this case, I am not in a position, nor do I have the skills, to research every allegation Ms. MacDonald makes or every statistic she cites. Some however, I can, and in an effort to make it easy for you to double check some of her facts and figures so that you may then draw your own conclusions, here is the link to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report, an impartial and unbiased compilation of crime statistics over multiple years, breaking those statistics down into multiple categories so that anyone can do their homework before they jump to conclusions.

Here is Ms. MacDonald’s article:


For almost two years, a protest movement known as “Black Lives Matter” has convulsed the nation. Triggered by the police shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, in August 2014, the Black Lives Matter movement holds that racist police officers are the greatest threat facing young black men today. This belief has triggered riots, “die-ins,” the murder and attempted murder of police officers, a campaign to eliminate traditional grand jury proceedings when police use lethal force, and a presidential task force on policing.

Even though the U.S. Justice Department has resoundingly disproven the lie that a pacific Michael Brown was shot in cold blood while trying to surrender, Brown is still venerated as a martyr. And now police officers are backing off of proactive policing in the face of the relentless venom directed at them on the street and in the media. As a result, violent crime is on the rise.

The need is urgent, therefore, to examine the Black Lives Matter movement’s central thesis—that police pose the greatest threat to young black men. I propose two counter hypotheses: first, that there is no government agency more dedicated to the idea that black lives matter than the police; and second, that we have been talking obsessively about alleged police racism over the last 20 years in order to avoid talking about a far larger problem—black-on-black crime.

Let’s be clear at the outset: police have an indefeasible obligation to treat everyone with courtesy and respect, and to act within the confines of the law. Too often, officers develop a hardened, obnoxious attitude. It is also true that being stopped when you are innocent of any wrongdoing is infuriating, humiliating, and sometimes terrifying. And needless to say, every unjustified police shooting of an unarmed civilian is a stomach-churning tragedy.

Given the history of racism in this country and the complicity of the police in that history, police shootings of black men are particularly and understandably fraught. That history informs how many people view the police. But however intolerable and inexcusable every act of police brutality is, and while we need to make sure that the police are properly trained in the Constitution and in courtesy, there is a larger reality behind the issue of policing, crime, and race that remains a taboo topic. The problem of black-on-black crime is an uncomfortable truth, but unless we acknowledge it, we won’t get very far in understanding patterns of policing.

Every year, approximately 6,000 blacks are murdered. This is a number greater than white and Hispanic homicide victims combined, even though blacks are only 13 percent of the national population. Blacks are killed at six times the rate of whites and Hispanics combined. In Los Angeles, blacks between the ages of 20 and 24 die at a rate 20 to 30 times the national mean. Who is killing them? Not the police, and not white civilians, but other blacks. The astronomical black death-by-homicide rate is a function of the black crime rate. Black males between the ages of 14 and 17 commit homicide at ten times the rate of white and Hispanic male teens combined. Blacks of all ages commit homicide at eight times the rate of whites and Hispanics combined, and at eleven times the rate of whites alone.

The police could end all lethal uses of force tomorrow and it would have at most a trivial effect on the black death-by-homicide rate. The nation’s police killed 987 civilians in 2015, according to a database compiled by The Washington Post. Whites were 50 percent—or 493—of those victims, and blacks were 26 percent—or 258. Most of those victims of police shootings, white and black, were armed or otherwise threatening the officer with potentially lethal force.

The black violent crime rate would actually predict that more than 26 percent of police victims would be black. Officer use of force will occur where the police interact most often with violent criminals, armed suspects, and those resisting arrest, and that is in black neighborhoods. In America’s 75 largest counties in 2009, for example, blacks constituted 62 percent of all robbery defendants, 57 percent of all murder defendants, 45 percent of all assault defendants—but only 15 percent of the population.

Moreover, 40 percent of all cop killers have been black over the last decade. And a larger proportion of white and Hispanic homicide deaths are a result of police killings than black homicide deaths—but don’t expect to hear that from the media or from the political enablers of the Black Lives Matter movement. Twelve percent of all white and Hispanic homicide victims are killed by police officers, compared to four percent of all black homicide victims. If we’re going to have a “Lives Matter” anti-police movement, it would be more appropriately named “White and Hispanic Lives Matter.”

Standard anti-cop ideology, whether emanating from the ACLU or the academy, holds that law enforcement actions are racist if they don’t mirror population data. New York City illustrates why that expectation is so misguided. Blacks make up 23 percent of New York City’s population, but they commit 75 percent of all shootings, 70 percent of all robberies, and 66 percent of all violent crime, according to victims and witnesses. Add Hispanic shootings and you account for 98 percent of all illegal gunfire in the city. Whites are 33 percent of the city’s population, but they commit fewer than two percent of all shootings, four percent of all robberies, and five percent of all violent crime. These disparities mean that virtually every time the police in New York are called out on a gun run—meaning that someone has just been shot—they are being summoned to minority neighborhoods looking for minority suspects.

Officers hope against hope that they will receive descriptions of white shooting suspects, but it almost never happens. This incidence of crime means that innocent black men have a much higher chance than innocent white men of being stopped by the police because they match the description of a suspect. This is not something the police choose. It is a reality forced on them by the facts of crime.

The geographic disparities are also huge. In Brownsville, Brooklyn, the per capita shooting rate is 81 times higher than in nearby Bay Ridge, Brooklyn—the first neighborhood predominantly black, the second neighborhood predominantly white and Asian. As a result, police presence and use of proactive tactics are much higher in Brownsville than in Bay Ridge. Every time there is a shooting, the police will flood the area looking to make stops in order to avert a retaliatory shooting. They are in Brownsville not because of racism, but because they want to provide protection to its many law-abiding residents who deserve safety.

Who are some of the victims of elevated urban crime? On March 11, 2015, as protesters were once again converging on the Ferguson police headquarters demanding the resignation of the entire department, a six-year-old boy named Marcus Johnson was killed a few miles away in a St. Louis park, the victim of a drive-by shooting. No one protested his killing. Al Sharpton did not demand a federal investigation. Few people outside of his immediate community know his name.

Ten children under the age of ten were killed in Baltimore last year. In Cleveland, three children five and younger were killed in September. A seven-year-old boy was killed in Chicago over the Fourth of July weekend by a bullet intended for his father. In November, a nine-year-old in Chicago was lured into an alley and killed by his father’s gang enemies; the father refused to cooperate with the police. In August, a nine-year-old girl was doing her homework on her mother’s bed in Ferguson when a bullet fired into the house killed her. In Cincinnati in July, a four-year-old girl was shot in the head and a six-year-old girl was left paralyzed and partially blind from two separate drive-by shootings. This mindless violence seems almost to be regarded as normal, given the lack of attention it receives from the same people who would be out in droves if any of these had been police shootings. As horrific as such stories are, crime rates were much higher 20 years ago. In New York City in 1990, for example, there were 2,245 homicides. In 2014 there were 333—a decrease of 85 percent. The drop in New York’s crime rate is the steepest in the nation, but crime has fallen at a historic rate nationwide as well—by about 40 percent—since the early 1990s. The greatest beneficiaries of these declining rates have been minorities. Over 10,000 minority males alive today in New York would be dead if the city’s homicide rate had remained at its early 1990s level.

What is behind this historic crime drop? A policing revolution that began in New York and spread nationally, and that is now being threatened. Starting in 1994, the top brass of the NYPD embraced the then-radical idea that the police can actually prevent crime, not just respond to it. They started gathering and analyzing crime data on a daily and then hourly basis. They looked for patterns, and strategized on tactics to try to quell crime outbreaks as they were emerging. Equally important, they held commanders accountable for crime in their jurisdictions. Department leaders started meeting weekly with precinct commanders to grill them on crime patterns on their watch. These weekly accountability sessions came to be known as Compstat. They were ruthless, high tension affairs. If a commander was not fully informed about every local crime outbreak and ready with a strategy to combat it, his career was in jeopardy.

Compstat created a sense of urgency about fighting crime that has never left the NYPD. For decades, the rap against the police was that they ignored crime in minority neighborhoods. Compstat keeps New York commanders focused like a laser beam on where people are being victimized most, and that is in minority communities. Compstat spread nationwide. Departments across the country now send officers to emerging crime hot spots to try to interrupt criminal behavior before it happens.

In terms of economic stimulus alone, no other government program has come close to the success of data-driven policing. In New York City, businesses that had shunned previously drug-infested areas now set up shop there, offering residents a choice in shopping and creating a demand for workers. Senior citizens felt safe to go to the store or to the post office to pick up their Social Security checks. Children could ride their bikes on city sidewalks without their mothers worrying that they would be shot. But the crime victories of the last two decades, and the moral support on which law and order depends, are now in jeopardy thanks to the falsehoods of the Black Lives Matter movement.

Police operating in inner-city neighborhoods now find themselves routinely surrounded by cursing, jeering crowds when they make a pedestrian stop or try to arrest a suspect. Sometimes bottles and rocks are thrown. Bystanders stick cell phones in the officers’ faces, daring them to proceed with their duties. Officers are worried about becoming the next racist cop of the week and possibly losing their livelihood thanks to an incomplete cell phone video that inevitably fails to show the antecedents to their use of force. Officer use of force is never pretty, but the public is clueless about how hard it is to subdue a suspect who is determined to resist arrest.

As a result of the anti-cop campaign of the last two years and the resulting push-back in the streets, officers in urban areas are cutting back on precisely the kind of policing that led to the crime decline of the 1990s and 2000s. Arrests and summons are down, particularly for low-level offenses. Police officers continue to rush to 911 calls when there is already a victim. But when it comes to making discretionary stops—such as getting out of their cars and questioning people hanging out on drug corners at 1:00 a.m.—many cops worry that doing so could put their careers on the line. Police officers are, after all, human. When they are repeatedly called racist for stopping and questioning suspicious individuals in high-crime areas, they will perform less of those stops. That is not only understandable—in a sense, it is how things should work. Policing is political. If a powerful political block has denied the legitimacy of assertive policing, we will get less of it.

On the other hand, the people demanding that the police back off are by no means representative of the entire black community. Go to any police-neighborhood meeting in Harlem, the South Bronx, or South Central Los Angeles, and you will invariably hear variants of the following: “We want the dealers off the corner.” “You arrest them and they’re back the next day.” “There are kids hanging out on my stoop. Why can’t you arrest them for loitering?” “I smell weed in my hallway. Can’t you do something?” I met an elderly cancer amputee in the Mount Hope section of the Bronx who was terrified to go to her lobby mailbox because of the young men trespassing there and selling drugs. The only time she felt safe was when the police were there. “Please, Jesus,” she said to me, “send more police!” The irony is that the police cannot respond to these heartfelt requests for order without generating the racially disproportionate statistics that will be used against them in an ACLU or Justice Department lawsuit.

Unfortunately, when officers back off in high crime neighborhoods, crime shoots through the roof. Our country is in the midst of the first sustained violent crime spike in two decades. Murders rose nearly 17 percent in the nation’s 50 largest cities in 2015, and it was in cities with large black populations where the violence increased the most. Baltimore’s per capita homicide rate last year was the highest in its history. Milwaukee had its deadliest year in a decade, with a 72 percent increase in homicides. Homicides in Cleveland increased 90 percent over the previous year. Murders rose 83 percent in Nashville, 54 percent in Washington, D.C., and 61 percent in Minneapolis. In Chicago, where pedestrian stops are down by 90 percent, shootings were up 80 percent through March 2016.

I first identified the increase in violent crime in May 2015 and dubbed it “the Ferguson effect.” My diagnosis set off a firestorm of controversy on the anti-cop Left and in criminology circles. Despite that furor, FBI Director James Comey confirmed the Ferguson effect in a speech at the University of Chicago Law School last October. Comey decried the “chill wind” that had been blowing through law enforcement over the previous year, and attributed the sharp rise in homicides and shootings to the campaign against cops. Several days later, President Obama had the temerity to rebuke Comey, accusing him (while leaving him unnamed) of “cherry-pick[ing] data” and using “anecdotal evidence to drive policy [and] feed political agendas.” The idea that President Obama knows more about crime and policing than his FBI director is of course ludicrous. But the President thought it necessary to take Comey down, because to recognize the connection between proactive policing and public safety undermines the entire premise of the anti-cop Left: that the police oppress minority communities rather than bring them surcease from disorder.

As crime rates continue to rise, the overwhelming majority of victims are, as usual, black—as are their assailants. But police officers are coming under attack as well. In August 2015, an officer in Birmingham, Alabama, was beaten unconscious by a convicted felon after a car stop. The suspect had grabbed the officer’s gun, as Michael Brown had tried to do in Ferguson, but the officer hesitated to use force against him for fear of being charged with racism. Such incidents will likely multiply as the media continues to amplify the Black Lives Matter activists’ poisonous slander against the nation’s police forces.

The number of police officers killed in shootings more than doubled during the first three months of 2016. In fact, officers are at much greater risk from blacks than unarmed blacks are from the police. Over the last decade, an officer’s chance of getting killed by a black has been 18.5 times higher than the chance of an unarmed black getting killed by a cop.

The favorite conceit of the Black Lives Matter movement is, of course, the racist white officer gunning down a black man. According to available studies, it is a canard. A March 2015 Justice Department report on the Philadelphia Police Department found that black and Hispanic officers were much more likely than white officers to shoot blacks based on “threat misperception,” i.e., the incorrect belief that a civilian is armed. A study by University of Pennsylvania criminologist Greg Ridgeway, formerly acting director of the National Institute of Justice, has found that black officers in the NYPD were 3.3 times more likely to fire their weapons at shooting scenes than other officers present. The April 2015 death of drug dealer Freddie Gray in Baltimore has been slotted into the Black Lives Matter master narrative, even though the three most consequential officers in Gray’s arrest and transport are black. There is no evidence that a white drug dealer in Gray’s circumstances, with a similar history of faking injuries, would have been treated any differently.

We have been here before. In the 1960s and early 1970s, black and white radicals directed hatred and occasional violence against the police. The difference today is that anti-cop ideology is embraced at the highest reaches of the establishment: by the President, by his Attorney General, by college presidents, by foundation heads, and by the press. The presidential candidates of one party are competing to see who can out-demagogue President Obama’s persistent race-based calumnies against the criminal justice system, while those of the other party have not emphasized the issue as they might have.

I don’t know what will end the current frenzy against the police. What I do know is that we are playing with fire, and if it keeps spreading, it will be hard to put out.

Heather Mac Donald is the Thomas W. Smith Fellow at the Manhattan Institute and a contributing editor of City Journal. She earned a B.A. from Yale University, an M.A. in English from Cambridge University, and a J.D. from Stanford Law School. She writes for several newspapers and journals, including The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The New Criterion, and Public Interest, and is the author of three books, including Are Cops Racist? and The War on Cops: How The New Attack on Law and Order Makes Everyone Less Safe (forthcoming June 2016).

Terms of Falconry

May 6th, 2016 17 Comments

Boy with Falcon


It’s interesting what one can find when one delves into the past. I was looking for a name and address in a scrap book my mother had specifically left me, and I stumbled across the following poem, unidentified either by title or author:

I shall not bate, for you have trained me well

And I can perch now quiet on your wrist,

Wearing my jesses, swivel, leash and bell,

Hoodshy no longer, I do not resist

That covering, for I am coming to.

Ringing above you, I wait on your word.

I reach my pitch, but I shall swoop for you,

Spread sails, then sink my pounces in the bird

You flush. I do not startle at your voice

Now or your touch, for I am fully weathered.

Haggard, your dark-eyed hawk, I wait your choice

To rest upon your glove or go, untethered.

Mantling at ease, I eschew the sky

Until you lift my hood and tell me, “fly.”

It is possibly entitled “Terms of Falconry,” or that may be simply an identification of the particular page (clipped from a magazine) that includes definitions of the various terms used in the poem. It was accompanied by a black-and-white reproduction of the painting above entitled, Boy with Falcon, identified as being by Albert Cuyp, but when I looked up the painting on the internet, I found it identified as being by a Flemish artist, Wallerant Vaillant.

I posted the poem once before, but I still know nothing about it. Does anyone know who wrote the poem? Does anyone know who painted the portrait? No matter who, both are spectacular.

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