Study Guide

The Once and Future King Book 1, Chapter 17

By T.H. White

Book 1, Chapter 17

  • It's now spring, and Merlyn thinks it's high time the Wart continued his education.
  • Wart would like to be a bird again, so he can fly this time. Last time he was a bird, he was just penned up in the Mews all night long, listening to a lot of boring talk.
  • Archimedes is going to take Wart out. But first, he explains a bit about birds' culture. For example, rooks (Wart's favorite bird) have laws and social expectations, just like humans, he explains.
  • Then, he tells Wart about pigeons (Archimedes' favorite bird) and their characteristics.
  • Merlyn, ever pedantic, launches into a long lecture on how the various birdcalls are based on imitating the sound of their prey—or other activities, such as drinking water or bathing. From this come the various bird languages.
  • Into this discussion bursts Kay, boorishly. He is late for his geography lesson, but tells Merlyn and Wart that he's killed a thrush on his way over.

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