Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Tu'i Malila

Here is a wonder out of the past: in 1965, a certain tortoise died in Tonga, 193 years old. While sailing the globe, Captain Cook had given it to the queen of the island in 1773; the tortoise was reportedly given a state burial.

The tortoise had a name: Tu'i Malila. It is a beautiful name, like singing in a forest. Tu'i Malila. There are photographs of the tortoise being visited by Queen Elizabeth (II):

When I first heard of Tu'i Malila, I wrote this, some time ago (and I unearthed it tonight in my notes):

I think all tortoises are philosophers. Ponderous as the living earth, they spend their first two hundred years thinking deep thoughts. They address, one after another, the mysteries of this and other worlds, watching each with keen eyes. At last, they are ready to act, but have grown too old and too tired from thinking of the world's pain, and they die of loneliness and sorrow.

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