This parrot is dead;
He is no more; he’s passed on.
He has ceased to be.
He’s expired and
Gone to meet his maker, a
Stiff, bereft of life,
Demised, not pining.
The choir invisible
Now has a parrot.
The words for this haiku are excerpts from Monty Python’s classic Dead Parrot Sketch, which you can see below. But the inspiration for the post is Charles-Valentin Alkan’s Funeral March on the Death of a Parrot.
Oddly, this is not the first time I’ve done a post on music written about a bird, or even for a dead bird. Mozart had a starling whose song may be heard in his music, and for whom he wrote a poem. Telemann wrote the Cantata of Funeral Music for an Artistically Trained Canary-Bird Whose Demise Brought the Greatest Sorrow to His Master.
So, there’s precedent (and decedent for that matter). But the subject of this post is Alkan’s funeral march. It has been said that he was inspired to write this after the appearance of Rossini’s opera The Thieving Magpie [La gazza ladra] in Paris.1 In his score, Alkan advises lovers of La gazza ladra not to attribute any “impertinence” to the dead parrot’s song, you know, not that he was parodying Rossini or anything.
In this funeral march, the soloists sing “As-tu déjeune, Jaco”, which is roughly equivalent to the English “Polly want a cracker?”
Alas, it is too late. Here is Alkan’s Funeral March on the Death of a Parrot.