Site Meter

Thursday, September 13, 2007


To his adroit Creator
Ascribe no less the praise –
Beneficent, believe me,
His eccentricities –

I held a bat in my palm once. It looked a bit like a fur-and-leathery chocolate biscuit. I felt I should have brought it a tribute, some tasty bugs for instance, or a piece of banana. Do bats like banana?

Buy this book and help a bat. All royalties go to the Bat Conservation Trust.


Mark Granier said...

I've always heartily approved of bats, though I've never held one in my hand. I love their deliberately crazy fliglt-patterns and crepuscular squeaks, like unoiled bicycles. DH Lawrence seemed to feel differently:

"Brown, nut-brown, fine fur!
But it might as well have been hair on a spider;thing
With long, black-paper ears."

or later in the same poem:

"Let the God who is maker of bats watch with them in their unclean corners ....
I admit a God in every crevice,
But not bats in my room;
Nor the God of bats, while the sun shines."

DHL (or his persona here) sounds like a total nut job. His poems about mosquitos are far more affectionate. I like this poem though, for much the same reason that I like 'Bibbles', that very Basil Fawltyish poem about his relationship with a small dog.

I saw very little wildlife when I visited Melbourne and Sydney. But I did manage to get a good look at the huge colony of fruit bats that inhabit the Royal Botanical Gardens near the Opera House. Fruit bats don't look like regular bats, more like their other name, Flying Foxes. Vast clouds of them lift off from the treetops every evening. Apparently they can't land gracefully, and make improvised crashes into bushes or trees or try to latch onto a branch as they pass, disturbing other bats and causing little skirmishes. Walking beneath the trees in the park by day, you can see them sleeping, clumped on the high branches like withered fruit. Here and there the paths and undergrowth are rank with the smell of batshit. DHL might have wrinkled his nose in disgust (or maybe it was just bats in his room that freaked him).

They are on YouTube of course:

I managed to get a couple of reasonable shots of bats in flight. Might do a post on this myself sometime.

Unappeasable Henry said...

That was my bat, puthwuth, and I'm still waiting for your poem on the subject. But bats look nothing like chocolate biscuits, so you mustn't use that. If they look like anything you'd want to eat, it must be when they're flying -- then they resemble sausages. Flying sausages. Hmmm, maybe you shouldn't use that either. I'm glad, all the same, that the memory has stayed with you. The more poems about bats, the better. I don't know what's in the anthology, but (avoiding Lawrence and Hughes)I'd most recommend Randall Jarrell's The Bat Poet, which has the unusual virtue of containing poems BY a bat. And, as my name might suggest, I recommend Berryman: 'Bats have no bankers', etc.

Unappeasable Henry said...

By the way, yes, bats like bananas. At least, fruit bats do. All British bats are insectivores. We have bats to thank for bananas - they pollinate them. And for vanilla. And for Tequila. Bats create human happiness.

puthwuth said...

The bat was called Tank, I think.

Selena Slough said...

Yes, most bats do like bananas! What was your impression of holding the bat in your hand? I know they may look pretty scary from afar, but the small ones can definitely be really cute. By the way, it’s great to see you showing support on the conservation of bats.