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The Wild Swan

by Isaac McLellan

(Cygnus Americanus)

Ah, whence dost thou come, O bird of wide-spread wing?
From what remotest shore dost thou wondrous tidings bring?
'Mid the Northland's Arctic ice, what woes hast thou beheld,
Where the gales o'er shipwreck'd crews their savage requiem knell'd.
In thy century of life, o'er the drifting, whelming snows,
Hath the shadow of thy pinions swept o'er the grinding floes,
Where by the Pfeffer River, or King William's Islet plain,
The bones of Franklin's men in ghostly rest have lain!
Perchance the flitting shade of thy hovering wings did fall
On that desolate, gray cairn where repose the dust of Hall;
Perchance by Lena's flood, in bleak Siberian land,
Thou saw'st the lost De Long and all his dying band!
O'er Baffin's Baj', o'er Bellot's Strait, perchance hath been thy flight,
Or over shores of Labrador in tempest and in night,
Where the Indian lurk'd in ambush, with rifle and with spear,
Or Esquimau in light canoe, to stop thy swift career.
Mayhap o'er Rocky Mounts, o'er the bleak Sierra's space,
High up in empty air, hath been thy tireless race;
Thou hast hover'd o'er Pike's Peak, whose granitic boulders rise
In majesty supreme—cliffs soaring to the skies!
O'er Yosemite's green vale, where Capitain's white cone
O'er mountain range and mighty woods uproars its royal throne,
Hath been thy flight, and thou hast paus'd where Merced's waters pour:
One sheeted ghost of snowy foam, along its garden shore.
For there the wildfowl swarm,—the swan, the duck, the crane,
The pelican and gray geese, that browse the grassy plain,
Where range the bear and puma, the antelope and deer;
Far o'er that sportsmen's paradise, hath been thy free career.
Thy flocks we've watch'd at Barnegat, and Currituck's great Sound,
A league-long line of gleamy plumes, like snows o'er winter ground;
Now, whither dost thou tend? Perchance to Southern clime,
Where calm lagoons are girdled in with orange and the lime.