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Poem by Robert William Service
'Twas on an iron, icy day I saw a pirate gull down-plane, And hover in a wistful way Nigh where my chickens picked their grain. An outcast gull, so grey and old, Withered of leg I watched it hop, By hunger goaded and by cold, To where each fowl full-filled its crop. They hospitably welcomed it, And at the food rack gave it place; It ate and ate, it preened a bit, By way way of gratitude and grace. It parleyed with my barnyard cock, Then resolutely winged away; But I am fey in feather talk, And this is what I heard it say: "I know that you and all your tribe Are shielded warm and fenced from fear; With food and comfort you would bribe My weary wings to linger here. An outlaw scarred and leather-lean, I battle with the winds of woe: You think me scaly and unclean... And yet my soul you do not know, "I storm the golden gates of day, I wing the silver lanes of night; I plumb the deep for finny prey, On wave I sleep in tempest height. Conceived was I by sea and sky, Their elements are fused in me; Of brigand birds that float and fly I am the freest of the free. "From peak to plain, from palm to pine I coast creation at my will; The chartless solitudes are mine, And no one seeks to do me ill. Until some cauldron of the sea Shall gulp for me and I shall cease... Oh I have lived enormously And I shall have prodigious peace." With yellow bill and beady eye This spoke, I think, that old grey gull; And as I watched it Southward fly Life seemed to be a-sudden dull. For I have often held this thought - If I could change this mouldy me, By heaven! I would choose the lot, Of all the gypsy birds, to be A gull that spans the spacious sea.
Robert William Service
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