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Home :: Archive :: 1997 :: December ::
Re: Rooks and Crows
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 8.1212.  Wednesday, 3 December 1997.

[1]     From:   W. L. Godshalk <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 02 Dec 1997 15:56:36 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 8.1211   Rooky and Crowsy

[2]     From:   Peter Hillyar-Russ <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 3 Dec 1997 09:33:00 -0000
        Subj:   Rooks


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           W. L. Godshalk <
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Date:           Tuesday, 02 Dec 1997 15:56:36 -0500
Subject: 8.1211   Rooky and Crowsy
Comment:        Re: SHK 8.1211   Rooky and Crowsy

Terence Hawkes makes the point:

> . . . the linking of 'crow' with malign, brutal
>kingship would appeal to any writer prepared to take a considered view
>of monarchy, then or now: even a poet laureate.

I of course immediately wonder about the <italic>hues</italic> of these
crows.

But, as far as I am aware, carrion crows eat carrion; I've seem 'em do
it. I've never seen a carrion crow attack and kill one of  the
vegetarian species (in my experience also called crows). Also I have
read that the American Corvus is only related to, and not the same as,
the British. So maybe those British carrion crows are also murderers as
well as scavengers. I await enlightenment.

Actually, Shakespeare uses "rooks" only twice (LLL 5.2.905, and MAC
3.4.124), linking them with jackdaws, choughs, and magpies-because they
all make a good deal of noise?  "Crow" he uses more often, and he seems
to use "crow" to mean both the gregarious rook (AWW 4.3.286) and carrion
crow (H5 2.1.87). And let's not forget Shakespeare's use of "raven,"
also a corvine bird, and sometimes used as a synonym for "crow,"
especially carrion crow. I gather this information from the OED and
Spevack's concordance; the references are to the Riverside edition.

In any case, it is not clear that Shakespeare makes a distinction
between the merry -old-English rooks and the nasty Scottish crows.

[2]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Peter Hillyar-Russ <
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Date:           Wednesday, 3 Dec 1997 09:33:00 -0000
Subject:        Rooks

However similar they look Rooks and Crows are distinct animals with very
different habits. There is a saying taught to novice ornithologists in
Britain "A Crow in a Crowd is a Rook" - for the crow is a solitary
scavenger, the rook is a highly gregarious animal.

Any interpretation of Shakespeare's "Rook" and "Crow" imagery should
take the distinction into account.

Peter Hillyar-Russ

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