In all our sanctuaries we sit at risk

The Bird of Paradise Danced Last Night


The poet John Skelton lived in the reign of Henry 8th. He apparently wrote his satirical poem “Speak, Parrot” in the precincts of Westminster, from the sanctuary still precariously available in the minster there. In the poem, Galathea is a lady in waiting who plies the parrot with almonds and dates, as she tries to persuade him to speak from his gilded cage, “true and plain”. For the parrot, this exotic bird of paradise hopping from bar to bar, is sharply observant and – according to Skelton –  is “my own dear heart and my dear darling”  and “speaks all languages aptly.” And Skelton pleads : “I pray you, let parrot have liberty to speak !”