Bruno D'Amicis - The Vulture


Like it or not, the end of an year always smells a bit like the end of a cycle: something older than us which somehow makes all look ahead and follow the necessary transformation.
I had the luck to conclude my 2013, at least photographically speaking, sitting on a high rock in the Simien Mountains of Ethiopia with ravens, vultures and several other birds of prey soaring in front of me in the crystalline mountain light.
When the most awaited one, the bearded vulture, finally came and slowly circled around my head, my eyes met its: I could perfectly see the famous “cercle rouge” around its orbits (please read the great Robert Hainard on this). Although being an atheist, by admiring the majestic lightness of this species (the “bone breaker”) which arrives at the very end of an animal’s life, I could not stop reflecting on the perfection of Nature when it comes to cycles. Materials (atoms!) that smoothly move from one creature to another – for ever. Nothing being wasted. Everything transformed. Endless life.
And so, I thought once again of the magic words of Robinson Jeffers in his poem “The vulture” and by thinking of death, I didn’t feel sad, but instead it gave me more energies for the times ahead.

My best wishes for a great New Year to all of you!

“The Vulture”

I had walked since dawn and lay down to rest on a bare hillside
Above the ocean. I saw through half-shut eyelids a vulture wheeling high up in heaven,
And presently it passed again, but lower and nearer, its orbit
I understood then
That I was under inspection. I lay death-still and heard the flight- feathers
Whistle above me and make their circle and come nearer.
I could see the naked red head between the great wings
Bear downward staring. I said, ‘My dear bird, we are wasting time here.
These old bones will still work; they are not for you.’ But how
beautiful he looked, gliding down
On those great sails; how beautiful he looked, veering away in the sea-light over the precipice. I tell you solemnly
That I was sorry to have disappointed him. To be eaten by that beak and become part of him, to share those wings and those eyes–
What a sublime end of one’s body, what an enskyment; what a life after death. (Robinson Jeffers)

Location: Ethiopia, Africa

Tags: Africa, bearded vulture, bruno damicis, ethiopia, gypaetus barbatus, lammergeier, mountains, Simien, wilderness

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  1. Werner said:

    05/01/2014 12:30

    Dear Bruno,

    beautiful image - beautiful text! Have a great Year 2014!

  2. Bruno said:

    05/01/2014 14:26

    Dear Werner,

    thank you so much and all the best to you, too! Can't wait to catch up in Potsdam!

  3. Pep said:

    05/01/2014 21:41

    Magnificient! Bellissimo!
    Really a creature that talks about perfection, about Creation, like a present offered to us.

  4. Luciano said:

    06/01/2014 08:45

    Great story, Bruno!

  5. Stefan Gerrits said:

    06/01/2014 21:07

    Thanks for sharing the story. Equally beautiful.