Archive for March 12, 2008

Kazakhstan and “The Thornbirds”

A fellow English teacher, who is Kazakh, recommended my reading “The Thornbirds.”  The very next day she had the 692 page paperback novel sitting on my desk.  I just started it so I’ll eventually find out why she loves this book so much.  She is eager to discuss it with me after I am through reading it.  Within the first pages it starts out with a little girl who is given a doll for her fourth birthday yet two of her brothers proceed to destroy it.  My husband already read the book over the weekend and found it quite emotional from beginning to end.  Do I really want to put myself through the same wringer?  Yes, looking at the forward it portends to be grim reading but perhaps insightful into the Kazakh psyche.  Yes, Kazakhstan’s history under Soviet rule made for woefully saddened lives on a daily basis.  Perhaps the legend that has origins from the outbacks of Australia taken from a book titled “The Thornbirds” at the turn of the 20th century has a similar legend in Kazakhstan.  I shall find out.

There is a legend about a bird which sings just once in its life, more sweetly than any other creature on the face of the earth.  From the moment it leaves the nest it searches for a thorn tree, and does not rest until it has found one.  Then, singing among the savage branches, it impales itself upon the longest, sharpest spine.  And, dying, it rises above its own agony to outcarol the lark and the nightingale.  One superlative song, existence the price.  But the whole world stills to listen, and God in His heaven smiles.  For the best is only bought at the cost of great pain…Or so says the legend.

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