Feed on

Riot, quiet, and surfeit are the consequence of sexual madness. Ten boars can easily tread a hundred sows, but this knowledge inflames the mind instead of pacifying the flagitous imaginations of men. The criminal joys if human beings are unknown to birds. There is no counterpart of Tiberius or of lascivious Messalina in the feathered races.

The great eagle has an iris of amber, and in appearace he is as vitreous as the topaz; this favorite of Jupiter was as regal and predatory as Heliogabalus, and the only difference between the bird and the emperor of Zeus is that the former will never touch carrion. The two Agrippinas, mothers of Nero and Caligula, were said to have had unnatural births, coming out of the womb feet first.

We go to the manners of birds, insects, quadrupeds, reptiles to comprehend mortals. Birds only couple in one way which has seldom been the ration of man. Ford Madox Ford, now among the woeful shades, rejoiced because swifts copulate on the wing. Every savant is a lewd goat or a sparrow of Venus.

— Edward Dahlberg, from The Sorrows of Priapus (New Directions, 1957)

— Véronique Gens “Ogni vento ch’al porto la spinga,” from G.F. Handel Agrippina (c. 1709-10)

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