Friday, October 19, 2012

Poetry Friday - A review of Swan Song

When I was still quite young, I read about the dodo bird, a flightless bird that was so tame that humans were able to come right up to it. Needless to say, the humans took advantage of the situation, killed the dodos for their meat, and the birds were wiped out. Not long after reading about the bird, I saw a model of a dodo in a museum, and my heart went out to the poor funny looking creature. How sad it was that I would never get the opportunity to see one in the flesh, or even see a photo of one. Ever since that day, I have tried to do what I could to protect threatened animal and plant species so that they don't disappear.

In today's poetry title you will get to meet the dodo and several other species that are no longer with us. I am sure the poems will move and inspire you.

Swan Song:
J. Patrick Lewis
Illustrated by Christopher Wormell
Poetry Picture Book
For ages 7 to 12
Creative Editions, 2003, 978-1-56846-175-5
There are millions of species of animals living on Earth. This may make many people feel that we are lucky, that we are rich in natural wonders, but the truth is that these animals are only a small fraction of the animal species that have inhabited our planet. “More than ninety-nine of all species that have ever lived are now extinct.” Many of these absent creatures were dinosaurs, animals who disappeared due to changes that took place on Earth long ago. However, many other species have vanished more recently, and they have done so because of us.
   This collection of poems is about some of the “recently departed” animal species. The poems serve as an epitaph for twenty extinct animals, and they also serve as a warning. We need to remember the species that are gone, so that we can protect the species of the present.
   Often considered the poster child of extinct animals, the dodo was a flightless bird that lived in an environment where they had no enemies, and who therefore had no fears. Then humans arrived, who hunted the dodo and thus the poor dodo “ceased to be.”
   Great Auks where another species of flightless bird who also had the unfortunate tendency not to fear the humans who came to their island homes. They too paid the ultimate price, providing hunters with feathers for eiderdown and meat for the table.
   In 1937, many momentous events took place that attracted a lot of attention in the media. The Hindenburg crashed, Amelia Earhart disappeared, Japan declared war on China, and Hitler announced that God was his “friend and ally.” People all over the world mourned and worried as they read the articles, but few of them grieved over the article that announced that the last Bali Tiger was dead. She had died without anyone mourning her loss.
   In his rich and powerful poems, Patrick J. Lewis beautifully captures the loss that we should all feel when we consider how many animal species have gone extinct because of human greed and thoughtlessness.
   At the back of the book readers will find further information about the animal species mentioned in the poems. 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This looks like a really special book. Thanks for sharing it. I will be looking for this one.