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Kingfisher Poems

Table of Contents

  1. Ballad to a Kingfisher by Charles G. D. Roberts
  2. Kingfisher by Maurice Thompson
  3. The Kingfisher by Isaac McLellan
  4. The Kingfisher by Frank Bolles

  1. Ballad to a Kingfisher

    by Charles G. D. Roberts

    Kingfisher, whence cometh it
    That you perch here, collected and fine,
    On a dead willow alit
    Instead of a sea-watching pine?
    Are you content to resign
    The windy, tall cliffs, and the fret
    Of the rocks in the free-smelling brine?
    Or, Kingfisher, do you forget?

    Here do you chatter and flit
    Where bowering branches entwine,
    Of Ceyx not mindful a whit,
    And that terrible anguish of thine?
    Can it be that you never repine?
    Aren't you Alcyone yet?
    Eager only on minnows to dine,
    O Kingfisher, how you forget!

    To yon hole in the bank is it fit
    That your bone-woven nest you consign,
    And the ship-wrecking tempests permit
    For lack of your presence benign?
    With your name for a pledge and a sign
    Of seas calmed and storms assuaged set
    By John Milton, the vast, the divine,
    O Kingfisher, still you forget.


    But here's a reminder of mine,
    And perhaps the last you will get;
    So, what's due your illustrious line
    Now, Kingfisher, do not forget.

  2. Kingfisher

    by Maurice Thompson

    He laughs by the summer stream
    Where the lilies nod and dream,
    As through the sheen of water cool and clear
    He sees the chub and sunfish cutting sheer.

    His are resplendent eyes;
    His mien is kingliwise;
    And down the May wind rides he like a king,
    With more than royal purple on his wing.

    His palace is the brake
    Where the rushes shine and shake;
    His music is the murmur of the stream,
    And that leaf-rustle where the lilies dream.

    Such life as his would be
    A more than heaven to me:
    All sun, all bloom, all happy weather,
    All joys bound in a sheaf together.

    No wonder he laughs so loud!
    No wonder he looks so proud!
    There are great kings would give their royalty
    To have one day of his felicity!

  3. The Kingfisher

    by Isaac McLellan

    Where the river winds through its green retreat,
    Smiling, rejoicing on its way,
    Whose ripples and rifles ever beat
    The old tree-roots and boulders gray;
    Where o'er the sedges' shallows and sands
    The cat-tail tufts and river reeds,
    At whose edge the patient angler stands,
    The kingfisher flies and feeds.
    Perch'd on a bending, wither'd spray
    That leans o'er the water's flow,
    He watches intently for the prey
    That swims in the stream below.

    Patiently, motionless, long he sits
    Like sentry on the castle height;
    Unharm'd the insect by him flits,
    The bee and the butterfly bright,
    For his dainty food is the finny race,
    The minnows below that swim,
    The silver shiners, the roach and dace,
    The trout o'er the surface that skim.

    Lovely and spangled with all the dyes
    That melt in the sunset skies,
    Wings bright as the peacock's plumes,
    Or humming-bird's mottled blooms,
    With long bill like that of water-crane,
    And crown of dusky greenish stain,
    No lovelier robber infests the streams,
    Where water runs or fish school gleams.
    Where'er sea-beaches far expand,
    By shingle-banks and stretch of sand;
    Where'er o'erleaning woodlands shade
    The clear brook twinkling thro' the glade,
    O bird rapacious! is thy haunt,
    On trees that o'er the currents slant.

    Pois'd in mid-air like osprey white
    That o'er sea borders takes its flight,
    It balances its spotted wings,
    Then downward like an arrow springs,
    Impaling with its pointed bill
    The shiny fish of pond and rill.
    The silent angler, as he glides
    Along the river's rushing tides,
    Hears oft thy sharp, discordant cry,
    As your gay pinions flutter by;
    But ne'er molests thy sudden dash,
    Thy downward plunge, like sunbeam flash.
    But the boy gunner's cruel eyes
    Mark thy bright plumage for his prize,
    In ambush takes his deadly aim,
    And slays thee, his resplendent game!

  4. The Kingfisher

    by Frank Bolles

    Hark! What sound disturbs the stillness
    Of the forest, of the meadow?
    Harsh the notes, a wild alarum,
    Waking echoes from the ledges,
    Mocking laughter from the hemlocks.
    Hark! It nearer comes and rattles,
    Like the hail upon the grape leaves,
    Like cold rain upon the cornfield.

    From the clear Chocorua water
    Slowly slips the wasting ice-sheet.
    In the space reclaimed from winter
    Pale blue skies are seen reflected,
    And the sleeping lion's profile
    From among them gleams majestic.

    See, reflections calm are broken,
    Waves arise and lap the ice-sheet,
    And again the wild alarum
    Echoes from the gloomy hemlocks.

    From the agitated water,
    Like a fragment of the picture
    Of the April sky just broken,
    Rises swiftly towards the forest
    He who makes this clamorous discord,
    He who broke the calm reflection,
    Tyrant of the sleeping waters,
    Terror of their finny dwellers.

    Thus he comes with melting ice-sheets,
    Comes with challenge and with bluster,
    Flashing like a feathered arrow
    Through the gleaming sun of Easter,
    Searching for the schools of minnows
    In the shallows, on the sand-bars,
    Calling out his wild defiance
    To the forest, to the mountain.

    Weeks roll by, and May-time lingers,
    Full of music, full of perfume.
    Over eddying Bearcamp water
    Myriad swallows glide and twitter.
    Golden sand-banks flank the river;
    Riddled are they, like a frigate
    Wrecked by cruel grape and shrapnel,
    Riddled by the swallows' borings.

    Flash! a jet of white and azure
    Leaves the sand-bank, clips the water,
    Rises to a blasted maple,
    Drooping o'er the Bearcamp eddies.
    Hark! again the forest quivers
    To the harsh and jarring challenge,
    And again the fish are startled
    By this plunge beneath the waters.

    In the sand-bank, near the turf line,
    Is a larger, deeper boring
    Than the borings of the swallows.
    Here the king's proud fisher lodges,
    Lodges on a heap of fishbones,
    Lodges in the deepest darkness,
    Lays her seven snow-white treasures,
    Fondles them and gives them being.

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