Friday, April 12, 2019
SOLD FOR A FARTHING: THE STORY OF A SPARROW
This week's arts and culture piece begins like this:
Nothing brings me more joy than sharing a little-known book. Here is one such hidden treasure: “Sold for a Farthing,” by Clare Kipps (1953).
Kipps was an air raid warden in London. Her husband died in 1940. Two weeks later she found an injured sparrow on her front stoop.
“Feeling that if a new-born infant is left outside one’s doorstep something should be done about it, I picked it up, wrapped it in warm flannel and, sitting over the kitchen fire, endeavored for several hours to revive it. After I had succeeded in opening its soft beak … I propped it open with a spent match and dripped one drop of warm milk every minute down its little throat.”
The bird had a deformed leg and one wing set at an odd angle. Knowing that releasing him into the wild would mean certain death, she proceeded to nurse him back to health. A mutual bond was formed and the two ended up living in a kind of strange, quasi-conjugal bliss for the next 12 years.
At first Kipps had to learn not to step on, disturb, or inadvertently crush the sparrow. Though the bird was tamed, Kipps, to her credit, never viewed him as a pet. She viewed him as an equal, a creation of God: an individual unlike any other, worthy of observation, respect, and love. Her aim was to call the bird as high as its capacities and gifts allowed.
READ THE WHOLE PIECE HERE.