Alfred Russel Wallace collected this specimen of
an adult male Red Bird of Paradise, Paradisea rubra.
Museum Victoria (Australia), Ornithology Collection. Photographer: Rodney Start.
I first read this poem in a natural history museum, where I worked awhile ago.
In a Museum
by Thomas Hardy
Here’s the mould of a musical bird long passed from light,
Which over the earth before man came was winging;
There’s a contralto voice I heard last night,
That lodges with me still in its sweet singing.
Such a dream is Time that the coo of this ancient bird
Has perished not, but is blent, or will be blending
Mid visionless wilds of space with the voice that I heard,
In the full-fuged song of the universe unending.
From Thomas Hardy: The Complete Poems (London: Macmillan, 2001).