A woman who identified herself to me only as Linnet came up to me at the end of my talk about Mavis Gallant's Linnet Muir stories, and asked me if I knew why Mavis had called the character Linnet. I told her what I knew -- that the mavis, like the linnet, is a songbird -- to which she added that the linnet had been brought over to North America in cages, and the linnets that are here now are those who escaped. A nice coda. Thank you, Linnet.
And here is what I now find online from "The Siren," a ballad, by J. Augustine Wade, in the Victorian magazine The Literary Garland
Come hither, come hither, sweet linnet ;
Look here, what a nice golden cage ;
Twere better by far to dwell in it
Than bear with the rude tempest's rage.
Mavis clearly preferred the rude tempest's rage.
© Linda Leith 2014