The pelican is an ancient and famous symbol of suffering and generosity. It is said to wound its breast with its beak and feed its young on the blood thus produced. Like this:
To the Ancient Eyptians pelicans were goddesses who were dab hands at prophesy and guiding people safely to the underworld.
So, when a poet sits down to encapsulate the essence of one of these remarkable, important birds, he has millennia of mystery and belief to distill.
Of all the pelican poetry in existence, surely Dixon Lanier Merritt's 1913 composition is the one we cherish most.
Oh, a wondrous bird is the pelican!
His beak holds more than his belican.
He takes in his beak
Food enough for a week.
But I'm damned if I know how the helican.
It's the one I remember, anyway...
...I don't know whether that's depressing, or not.
Word To Use Today: pelican. This word comes from the Greek pelekān, which seems to come from from pelekus, axe. Why? Well, the Greek for woodpecker was pelekas, and perhaps the Greeks didn't think the difference between woodpeckers and pelicans was all that important.