The life cycle of a pangolin with upsetting details.
Well one year on from the terrible pandemic that swept the world do we remember the supposed start of it in a wild animal meat market in China. It was said to have been a bat or a pangolin that transferred the virus mutation to humans. Who really knows? But hopefully the wild animal trade that sees beautiful exotic wild creatures trapped, cooped up and sold for food will be erradicated now.
I was thinking of the start of the pandemic when reading from my Penguin Book of Women Poets poetry collection this week and came across this poem by the American Marianne Moore, and liked the comparison to people she makes in this verse. Is it a comparison of a person to a pangolin or of a pangolin to a person, or both? The last couple of lines, ‘The prey of fear . . . . my soul’, speaks to me as I feel a bit like that each day.
by Marianne Moore
(verse 7 onwards)
. . . . . A sailboat
was the first machine. Pangolins, made
for moving quietly also, are models of exactness,
on four legs; or hind feet plantigrade,
with certain postures of a man. Beneath sun and moon, man slaving
to make his life more sweet, leaves half the flowers
needing to choose wisely how to use the strength;
a paper-maker like the wasp; a tractor of foodstuffs,
like the ant; spidering a length
of web from bluffs
above a stream; in fighting, mechanicked
like the pangolin; capsizing in
disheartenment. Bedizened or stark
naked, man, the self, the being we call human, writing-
master to this world, griffons a dark
'Like does not like that is obnoxious'; and writes
error with four
r's. Among animals, one has a sense of humour.
Humour saves a few steps, it saves years. Un-
modest and unemotional, and all emotion,
he has everlasting vigour,
power to grow,
though there are few creatures who can make one breathe faster and make one erecter.
Not afraid of anything is he,
and then goes cowering forth, tread paced to meet an
at every step. Consistent with the
formula - warm blood, no gills, two pairs of hands and
a few hairs that
is a mammal; there he sits in his own habitat,
serge-clad, strong-shod. The prey of fear, he, always
curtailed,extinguished, thwarted by the dusk,
work partly done,
says to the alternating blaze,
'Again the sun!
anew each day; and new and new and new,
that comes into and steadies my soul.'
Pangolin | Species | WWF