My Whit’s End Book Club–Out of Africa–From an Immigrant’s Notebook II

Let’s finish up this chapter of short stories.  Dinesen mentions several birds in this chapter, and I have tried to find images of all the birds she mentioned.

Since this chapter is divided into short stories, I won’t use page numbers, but rather just the title of the short story to help you locate the passages.  I included my favorite quotes under each short story title also.  Enjoy.


“An old lady sat in a party and talked of her life.  She declared that she would like to live it all over again, and held this fact to prove that she had lived wisely.  I thought: Yes, her life has been the sort of life that should really be taken twice before you can say that you have had it.  An arietta you can take da capo, but not a whole piece of music,–not a symphony and not a five-act tragedy either.  If it is taken over again it is because it has not gone as it ought to have gone.

My, life, I will not let you go except you bless me, but then I will let you go.”

da capo – from Wikipedia.  Da Capo is a musical term in Italian, meaning from the beginning (literally from the head). It is often abbreviated D.C. It is a composer or publisher’s directive to repeat the previous part of music, often used to save space. In small pieces this might be the same thing as a repeat, but in larger works D.C. might occur after one or more repeats of small sections, indicating a return to the very beginning.


“. . .As they had become used tot he idea of poetry, they begged: “Speak again.  Speak like rain.”


“The plains always have a maritime air, the open horizon recalls the Sea and the long Sea-sands, the wandering wind is the same, the charred grass has a saline smell, and when the grass is long it runs in waves all over the land.  When the white carnation flowers on the plains you remember the chopping white-specked waves all round you as you are tacking up the Sund.  Out on the plains the plovers likewise take on the appearance of Sea-birds, and behave like Sea-birds on a beach, legging it , on the close grass, as fast as they can for a short time, and then rising before your horse with high shrill shrieks, so that the light sky is all alive with wings and bird’s voices.”

“we had the black and white stork in Africa” – from Wikipedia.File:Ciconia ciconia2.jpg

Marabout –This blog has an excellent photo of a Marabout bird.  The author also describes the bird.  Here photo gives us a size comparison as she is pictured beside the Marabout Bird. 


Secretary Bird – from Wikipedia.

File:Sagittarius serpentarius Sekretär.JPG

plovers – from Wikipedia.File:Killdeer23.jpg

Crested Cranes – from Wikipedia.

File:Gray Crowned Crane at Zoo Copenhagen.jpg

Greater Hornbill – from Wikipedia.  This isn’t the exact Hornbill to which Dineson was referring, but it gives us an idea.File:Great-Hornbill.jpg

recherche curves – from French meaning “to seek out”.  recherche = elegant, refined, exotic, rare, choice, exquisite, sought-after.


Rabelais – from Wikipedia.  François Rabelais (French pronunciation: [fʁɑ̃swa ʁablɛ]) (c. 1494 – 9 April 1553) was a major French Renaissance writer, doctor and Renaissance humanist. He has historically been regarded as a writer of fantasy, satire, the grotesque, and bawdy jokes and songs.

Aristophanes – from Wikipedia.  Aristophanes (English pronunciation: /ˌærɨˈstɒfənz/; Ancient Greek: [aristopʰánɛːs]; Ἀριστοφάνης, ca. 446 BC – ca. 386 BC), son of Philippus, of the deme Cydathenaus,[2] was a prolific and much acclaimed comic playwright of ancient Athens. Eleven of his forty plays survive virtually complete. These, together with fragments of some of his other plays, provide the only real examples of a genre of comic drama known as Old Comedy, and they are in fact used to define the genre.[3] Also known as the Father of Comedy[4] and the Prince of Ancient Comedy,[5] Aristophanes has been said to recreate the life of ancient Athens more convincingly than any other author.[6] His powers of ridicule were feared and acknowledged by influential contemporaries  — Plato[7][8] singled out Aristophanes’ play The Clouds as slander contributing to the trial and execution of Socrates although other satirical playwrights[9] had also caricatured the philosopher. His second play, The Babylonians (now lost), was denounced by the demagogue Cleon as a slander against the Athenian polis. It is possible that the case was argued in court but details of the trial are not recorded and Aristophanes caricatured Cleon mercilessly in his subsequent plays, especially The Knights, the first of many plays that he directed himself. “In my opinion,” he says through the Chorus in that play, “the author-director of comedies has the hardest job of all.”

“The Clouds” – from Wikipedia.  The Clouds (Νεφέλαι / Nephelai) is a comedy written by the celebrated playwright Aristophanes lampooning intellectual fashions in classical Athens. It was originally produced at the City Dionysia in 423 BC and it was not well received, coming last of the three plays competing at the festival that year. It was revised between 420-417 BC and thereafter it was circulated in manuscript form.[3] No copy of the original production survives and scholarly analysis indicates that the revised version is an incomplete form of Old Comedy. This incompleteness however is not obvious in translations and modern performances.[4] The Clouds can be considered not only the world’s first extant ‘comedy of ideas’[5] but also a brilliant and successful example of that genre.[6] The play gained notoriety for its caricature of the philosopher Socrates ever since its mention in Plato‘s Apology as a factor contributing to the old man’s trial and execution

Encyclopaedists – from Wikipedia.  The encyclopédistes were a group of 18th-century writers in France who compiled and wrote the Encyclopédie, edited by Denis Diderot and Jean le Rond d’Alembert. More than a hundred encyclopédistes have been identified.[1] Many were part of the intellectual group known as the philosophes. They promoted the advancement of science and secular thought and supported tolerance, rationality, and open-mindedness of the Enlightenment. Still, as Frank Kafker has shown, the encyclopédistes were not a unified group, neither in ideology nor social class


Eppur si muove – Italian.  “Yet it moves.”–from Google translate.


Mombasa. . .the deep Sea-arm round the island forms an ideal harbour – from Wikipedia.

File:Aerial View of Mombasa.jpg

If you would like an areal view of the harbour in the days of sailing ships, you can click on the blue link.

massive old Fortress. . .embrasure – slanted opening in fortification: a slanted opening in the wall or parapet of a fortification,
designed so that a defender can fire through it on attackers.  from Wikipedia.

File:Fort JesusMombasa.jpg

mango trees – from Wikipedia.


china from Lamu –from Wikipedia.

Lamu town is a small town on Lamu Island, which in turn is a part of the Lamu Archipelago in Kenya.

Lamu town is also the headquarters of Lamu District and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

File:Lamu coast.jpg

Lamu, Kenya’s oldest living town, was one of the original Swahili settlements along coastal East Africa.

There are some other accounts that mention Chinese ships of Zheng He‘s fleet sinking near Lamu Island in Kenya in 1415. Survivors settled on the island and married local women. This has been proven recently by archaeological work on the island that has resulted in the finding of evidence to suggest this connection. Further DNA testing done on some residents show that they indeed have Chinese ancestors.[1][2][3]

The town was first attested in writing by an Arab traveller Abu-al-Mahasini who met a Judge from Lamu visiting Mecca in 1441.

The town’s history is marked by a Portuguese invasion which began in 1506, and the Omani domination around 1813 (the year of the Battle of Shela). The Portuguese invasion was prompted by the nation’s successful mission to control trade along the coast of the Indian Ocean. For considerable time, Portugal had a monopoly in shipping along the East African coast and imposed export taxes on the pre-existing local channels of commerce. In the 1580s, Lamu led a rebellion against the Portuguese, prompted by Turkish raids. In 1652, Lamu was assisted by Oman in lifting Portuguese control. Lamu’s years as an Omani protectorate mark the town’s golden age. During this period, Lamu became a center of poetry, politics, arts and crafts as well as the trade.

Lamu is a popular destination for backpackers in search of an authentic experience.


shoot bongo – Bongo Antelope.  From Wikipedia.

File:Four bongo calves with nanny.jpg

Avez-vous beaucoup travaille dans votre vie? – French.  “Have you worked in your life?”

Enormement, Madame – French.  “Enormously, Mrs.”

Notre mission.  Notre grande mission dans le Congo. – French.  “Our mission.  Our grand mission in the Congo.”

Il faut enseigner aux negres a etre honnetes et a travailler.  Rien de plus. – French.  “Negroes must be taught to be honest and to work.  Nothing more.  Nothing.”


Mount Elgon – from Wikipedia.File:Koitobos.jpg


“Eros struck out, like a smith with his hammer. . .” – Questions regarding this quote can be found here.


wild dogs –


Sappho – The moon has sunk and the Pleiads, And midnight is gone, And the hours are passing, passing, And I lie alone. – From Wikipedia.  Sappho (play /ˈsæf/; Attic Greek Σαπφώ [sapːʰɔː], Aeolic Greek Ψάπφω [psapːʰɔː]) was an Ancient Greek poet, born on the island of Lesbos. Later Greeks included her in the list of nine lyric poets. Her birth was sometime between 630 and 612 BC, and it is said that she died around 570 BC, but little is known for certain about her life. The bulk of her poetry, which was well-known and greatly admired throughout antiquity, has been lost, but her immense reputation has endured through surviving fragments.File:Bust Sappho Musei Capitolini MC1164.jpg

I hope you enjoyed these short stories as much as I did.  You can feel Dinesen’s love for her country of Africa in these stories.  Unfortunately, the next time we meet, it will be over “Hard Times.”

reading along,


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1 Response to My Whit’s End Book Club–Out of Africa–From an Immigrant’s Notebook II

  1. Bel McCoy says:

    Perhaps the beautiful white-striped brown animal produced quadruplets?? Would imagine it would be rather rare, thus the picture??
    Mango trees are pretty and dense… have to look inside for the luscious fruit. Picked several at my son’s place on Oahu.


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