(urth) fifth head owlet- wolf

David Stockhoff dstockhoff at verizon.net
Wed Mar 27 04:57:03 PDT 2013

On 3/27/2013 12:22 AM, Jerry Friedman wrote:
>> From: Marc Aramini <marcaramini at yahoo.com>
>> T he opening quote, about the ivy tod being heavy with snow and the owlet
>> whooping to a wolf below that eats the she wolf's young, has always seemed a
>> bit ambiguous.
> It does bring Christianity in by means of the hermit, though.
>> The opening scene involves David making noises with the pan
>> pipes.  Is this like the owl whooping to the wolfe, number five, who will one
>> day kill another wolfe as his own father has consumed his free life and taken
>> the life of his originator? The only other mention of an owl is when maitre in
>> VRT is called an owl.  There are forty seven pan pipes and later the prisoner
>> forty seven taps on the pipes to communicate with VRT.  He is a political
>> prisoner.
>> Does the wolf eat the young of its mother in the quote?  (Number four and five
>> et al continually consuming each other- they are wolfes) the quote is certainly
>> not referring to the owl as the consumer of wolves, right?
> I think so.  The OED says an "owlet" is "especially a young or small owl", though
> Coleridge might have added the "let" just for the meter.  Wolves had a reputation
> as cannibalistic.
> http://www.archive.org/stream/poetsbeastsseque00robi/poetsbeastsseque00robi_djvu.txt
> Also as I see it, David is more the "she-wolf's young" than the Wolfe clones, since
> in some sense they aren't a woman's offspring.
> On a tangent, in another poem Coleridge compared atheism to an owlet.
> http://www.online-literature.com/coleridge/637/
> Jerry Friedman
> _______________________________________________


 From your excellent link:

. . . it is punctually associated with that delightful fiction
of the poets, the poetical owl. They are as thick as thieves,
these two creatures, and always " on the patter " together.
If you see Charley Bates coming up the street you may
be sure the Dodger is in the immediate neighbourhood.
The rascals converse in highwayman's slang.*"The owlet
whoops to the wolf below."*The chances are they are
decoys for each other, and divide the spoils of the victims
whom they assassinate in company. Was there ever such an
abominably comic partnership in crime --- owls and wolves !

Everyone must read the entire section here on Bears vs Wolves. Wasn't 
that a topic of speculation here some time ago? I forget the text, but I 
recall general mystification as to why bears and wolves would be in 
eternal opposition to one another.

I note that there's no mention there of wolves eating their own young, 
but rather of their eating human infants as well as "laggards" among the 
pack. Close enough?
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