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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in The Language of the Birds

Posted by on in Studies Blogs
The Magic of Names

The Exeter Book is a collection of medieval poetry from the late tenth century written down by a single scribe. Amongst other treasures, it contains almost a hundred riddles. If you think of medieval monks as pious and devoted -- well, for one thing, you've probably not read Chaucer! Many of the riddles are bawdy and full of double entendres, just like the songs the monks would sing. 

Much of our casual information about life in the Middle Ages comes texts like these: details of natural phenomena or the habits of birds. Riddle 68 is particularly delightful not only for the vivid depiction of the magpie, but also the embedding of the runic puzzle of its name which adds an additional challenge to the reader. 'Hiroga' the Anglo-Saxon name for magpie is only apparent once you unscramble the runic letters.  

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
White Snow, Black Branch, Red Bird

Sunday morning, February 15th, 6:55 a. m. I've just heard a sound I haven't heard since before Samhain. That's why I'm wearing this silly (my father would say “shit-eating”) grin.


Here in southern Minnesota we're back in deep freeze. After an all-too-brief Bridey's Spring, the interstellar cold has returned, deep space cold, the cold between the stars. In a landscape drained of color and sound, Winter reigns Interminable.

Then suddenly a red bird sings outside the window, and spring seems possible.

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  • Anne Forrester
    Anne Forrester says #
    Gods, did this make me happy. What Cheer! What Cheer!

The writing scripts of humankind may look completely different from one another, but the sounds formed by human mouths can be very similar. For example, the sound Ma—and variations thereof—mean Mother all over the world. 

J. Robert Oppenheimer said that when the first atomic bomb was detonated, he remembered a quote from the Bhagavad-Gita: "Now I have become Death, destroyer of worlds." That ancient sentiment was written in Sanskrit—not the oldest language of humankind, but one of the few which are still in use today. 

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  • Francesca De Grandis
    Francesca De Grandis says #
    Ted, lovely article, thank you! I love Latin, and learning more about its roots was awesome. I also loved hearing about the Cel
  • Ted Czukor
    Ted Czukor says #
    Francesca - It's a lonely feeling, to be ahead of your time with ideas that you can't get anybody to listen to - and then to find
  • Francesca De Grandis
    Francesca De Grandis says #
    Ted, you are so sweet, thank you. Yeah, it does get lonely, as you clearly have experienced. But I am also grateful for deep think
  • Ted Czukor
    Ted Czukor says #
    Blessed Be to you, too.
  • Greybeard
    Greybeard says #
    Despite a century of misinterpretation, humans are not evolved from chimpanzees. We both share ancestry with some common ancient

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