Thoughts on Beauty, Pigeons, and Persian Cats

I was thinking about Beauty the other daythat’s Beauty with a capital Bwhen that Byron piece popped into my head:

She walks in beauty, like the night
               Of cloudless climes and starry skies;
    And all that’s best of dark and bright
        Meet in her aspect and her eyes

Actually, those exact words didn’t pop into my head. It was more like,

She walks in beauty like the… um… night
   Something, something… yada, yada…
How’s that go again?

So I Googled it and got the exact wording (see above, top).

Word on the street is that Lord Byron penned these words after seeing his cousin in her mourning dress. Even if black was her color, we can assume the dress wasn’t the reason for his rapture. (Though with Byron, anything goes.)

Third stanza:

And on that cheek, and o’er that brow, 
So soft, so calm, yet eloquent, 
The smiles that win, the tints that glow, 
But tell of days in goodness spent, 
A mind at peace with all below, 
A heart whose love is innocent!

There was a woman I knew from my younger days, way back when, who I think illustrates Byron’s point to some extent. She went to our church.

Usually children never take much notice of older people unless they impact our lives in some way. Such as a neighbor lady who bakes cookies, or a friend’s mother who will back the cost of the ice cream man.

Children are selfish beasts that way.

Be that as it may, this particular woman I noticed. My mother was talking to her and as I stood to the side waiting — I never participated in any conversation willingly — I was struck by her brightly colored dress. Church ladies in those days typically chose subdued prints, such as a demure pastel floral. But this woman was wearing magenta.


Secondly, and more importantly, I noticed how happy the woman appeared. Most of the women of my acquaintance, the best you could hope for was that they were mildly pleasant. More often they were… shall we say, a little on edge. So much so that an empty juice glass set next to the sink, rather than in the sink, could send them off the deep end.

Yet this woman was smiling and cheerful and looked for all the world as though life was a wondrous thing to be savored and enjoyed. She was positively radiant.

Later I asked my mother who she was and was shocked to learn she had attended our church for several years. This was news to me. How was it I never noticed her before? Or her radiance?

“Oh, she didn’t use to be this way,” my mother replied.

I asked her what changed.

“Her husband died.”

And so you see? Lord Byron was right. Grief is a beautiful thing.

Continuing on our theme of Beauty, I met a pair of pigeons the other day.

They were enjoying a quiet respite in the grocery store parking lot, where someone had very thoughtfully dropped a milkshake and half-eaten container of french fries. The couple was partaking of the bounty.

As I passed, the male regarded me in that peculiar pigeon way they have, where they study your face very carefully and store the knowledge, as it may come in handy later.

He was a pretty boy and so I told him. I said, “Aren’t you a pretty boy.” Not as a question, you see, but as a declaration. For indeed, he was pretty. The top of his head was a shimmery purple and his breast had specks of green and black, with just a dash of gray. Truly, he was a pigeon among pigeons.

He showed no sign of false modesty after hearing my compliment. Birds never do. They don’t look down at their feathers as though to say, “Oh, these old things?” They simply accept your words as a matter of course.

Then I noticed his companion and frankly, I was shocked. With her scruffy grayish-brown feathers and dull aspect, she looked the bird equivalent of a woman in an oversized t-shirt and sweatpants.

And not a flattering oversized t-shirt and sweatpants, neither.

You would think that such a noble bird as he was, she would make more of an effort, wouldn’t you? But no, not her. She squatted in the midst of milkshake froth, a limp french fry dangling from her mouth.


Honestly. I was embarrassed for her.

And yet — and yet, people — it did nothing to diminish his admiration of her in any way. And that is the main thing.

For Love is a Beautiful thing. And blind. Terribly blind.

So if you’ve been paying attention, Beauty is both Sad and Lovely.

Yet there is another aspect to Beauty I think we must discuss, for it is something I learned from a Persian cat. And anything you learn from a Persian cat is something worth discussing.

Missy, for that was her name, the name of the Persian cat, was a gloriously beautiful, white cat.

All cats know they are beautiful, especially Persians. Even when they are not beautiful, cats know they are beautiful. This is a scientific fact.

Missy shared her home with a Cockapoo named Bubbles.

Yes, you read that right: Bubbles.

Bubbles was an embarrassment to the entire canine community. I knew it, Missy knew it, Bubbles knew it.

Bubbles was afraid of everything. The sound of the furnace kicking on sent her cowering to the corner. A sheet of paper flying off a table made her jump. The dog was a walking bundle of nerves.

So it probably didn’t help matters that Missy’s favorite form of entertainment was to sit on one side of a doorway and wait patiently, oh-so-patiently, until Bubbles entered the room. And then, floomph! Missy sprang out and Bubbles yelped, taking off in three different directions all at once, usually urinating in the process.

Meanwhile, Missy ambled away as though nothing happened, returning to her cushioned throne, where she would groom herself.

Persian cat

For Beauty is Cruel.

Beauty is Sad and Lovely and Cruel.

And thus ends my treatise on Beauty for today.

31 thoughts on “Thoughts on Beauty, Pigeons, and Persian Cats

  1. Byron, my second favorite poet. You got further in the poem than I did and you remembered the poet’s name. Most times I remember like this: “1800’s? Beauty, night? Something like that.”

  2. I really do love your deep and humorous description of the various birds and animals. I often study them myself and have many times told a bird ” you are beautiful”. They seem to preen then.:)
    As to cars, I do so agree too.

    1. Thanks, Miriam!
      Yes, they do seem to preen don’t they? I read something once that said Pigeons can recognize themselves in a mirror. Though how the researchers could tell, I’m not sure. Perhaps the pigeons filled out questionnaires?

      1. It is funny but true. We humans do apply our language and feelings to how the birds or other animals behave. As we don’t understand their language…….shall we take a course? 😊

  3. Beauty is like perfection. You could have a perfect sunset, and another day an equally perfect sunset that’s completely different. Perhaps that’s why some artists work makes me say “Wow!”, and others simply make me scratch my head and think artists are weird.

    1. Ah, very true. And I’ve always wondered how much of what we view as beauty is taught? Sunsets are pretty much a given, I can’t imagine anyone thinking they’re ugly. But culture and societal pressure play a large role in determining human beauty, what it is and what it isn’t.
      Hmm. So much to think about! 🤔

  4. This post was amazing and, though I hesitate to say this because it’s quite possible that I’m temporarily not recalling some of your pieces, this one shot to to the top of the heap. I won’t say “best ever”, as that’s too definitive, but I will say “top three”, thus giving me some wiggle room should I wake up in the middle of the night, thinking “oh, wait, there was that other post about that thing”. Quite enthralled, indeed.

    1. Well thank you, sir Brian! That means a lot, it truly does.
      By the way, I recently saw the movie you recommended. I shall now hunt down Cleopatra’s post and tell you what I thought. See ya there!

  5. Cats’ thought patterns are disturbingly closer to human thought patterns than we like to believe. Two examples:

    1. Weekend house party. Owners had a large orange tom. Guests brought their 2 mini-dachshunds. On Saturday morning, most of the humans went out and left the dogs in the cellar (finished cellar, it was nice, not a cold damp cellar) and the cat upstairs. The dogs basically huddled at the top of the cellar stairs, waiting to get out. There was a small space between the bottom of the cellar door and the floor. The cat walked by, hissed once out of boredom, and nonchalantly continued on its way, knowing the dogs couldn’t do a damned thing about it.

    2. A neighbor had a cat who hated to be left alone. She came back after a weekend away. A friend had looked in on the cat while she was gone. Everything was fine right up until she returned. The cat waited and THEN, while the neighbor was watching, the cat pooped on the bed. Revenge is a dish best served while the victim watches in horror.

    1. Hahaha! That’s what I love best about cats, their semi-wild, conniving ways. Those are two perfect examples of the feline mind in action. I suppose you’re right, they are like us in more ways than we’d like to admit!

  6. It is rather odd that in the bird world the male is usually dressed in bright and bold colours, while the female is dull and nondescript. It must give the females some advantage – maybe less of a target to cats, or something.

    1. I always thought it’d be interesting if humans were like birds, and it was the men who had to preen and dress well in order to attract us. And all the while we’d lounge on the sofa, drink beer, scratch ourselves…
      Dang, those birds are smart! 😀

    2. Basically correct. The male is brightly colored, often with oversized or excess plumage and if he can survive predators depite being a walking advertisement for dinner, that proves his fitness to be an egg-daddy. The female is camouflaged like a marine sniper on deep recon, because she’s the one who has to protect the eggs: you’ll never see her until she chooses to attack.

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