This discursive double-cross is one indication of how Blind's representations of Egypt, Italy, and England in Birds of Passage participate in ideologies of imperialism despite her political radicalism and her usual emphasis in her poetry on liberatory or progressive narratives.
However, if her thoughts on Shelley and her own evolutionary epic imply that Blind held a view of the Orient as simply a stop on the developmental road to the West, the "Prelude" to Birds of Passage reminds us that she was also tempted to reverse direction and journey East.
East, West, Past, Present, the poet of Birds of Passage comfortably traverses all these terrains in language, as Blind comfortably traveled in Egypt under the care of Thomas Cook's steamers and modern tourist hotels, such as the landmark Shepheard's.
The only mention of Philae in Birds of Passage, though, comes in the "Prelude," a discussion of which began this article, and there her emphasis, like Loti's, is on reverence for the Egypt of the past.
6)--Egypt comes to represent in Birds of Passage either a mysterious origin or a terrifying future for a West that the poet identifies with the dynamic present.
In contrast to the extremity of the East, the West of Birds of Passage is, by-and-large, marked by temperate weather and lush scenery.
Birds of Passage is a wonderful book of poetry, filled with some of Blind's best verse, and it caps the extraordinary career of a versatile poet capable of both daring and refinement.
22) Armstrong has little to say, however, about Birds of Passage, though her one comment--that for it and other works Blind "ransacked different cultures for material" (p.
and] a sceptic," (24) but, despite its inclusion of "The Beautiful Beeshareen Boy," it characterizes the poetry of Birds of Passage solely through a reference to the "lighthearted" nature of the poem "A Fantasy.
If we read "Mourning Women," however, without noting the vexed mixture of Orientalisms in Birds of Passage, we may not understand the poem's significance clearly and may inadvertently reinforce certain of the book's Orientalist motifs.
Given the sonnet's own formal emphasis on the joint cultural/theological grounds for the oppression (that is, the sestet's focus on a Qur'anic basis for the supposed belief), Blind's sympathy with the "Mourning Women," as she calls them, should be separated neither from the mission in much of her work to demythologize systems of religious belief nor from the tendency in Birds of Passage to assign Egyptian culture the status of ancient, static, pre-modern Other.