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Seabird Poems

Table of Contents

  1. To a Migrating Sea-Bird by George Hill
  2. To a Sea-Bird by Bret Harte
  3. The Sea-Bird by Anna Maria Wells
  4. The Stormy Petrel by Bryan Waller Procter
  5. The Little Beach-Bird by Elizabeth Akers
  6. Sea-Birds by Jessie Belle Rittenhouse

  1. To a Migrating Sea-Bird

    by George Hill

    As now thy solitary flight
    I faintly trace on high,
    — A speck, a mist that melts in light,
    Upon the sunset sky —
    Seen from that lone and dizzy height,
    The dwindled forest to thy sight
    Shows like a shrub; the glen,
    Like one of all its many flowers;
    Cities, like molehills; peaks, like towers;
    And sure, like emmets, men.

    High, higher still, till the gone sun
    Gleams on thy passing wing;
    As now the shadows, deeply dun,
    Come down, I see thee spring;
    But thou the point hast reached, at last,
    Whence the sure path, by instinct traced,
    Thou clearly canst espy,
    To stream or lake, or reedy shore,
    Where haply thou hast built before,
    And heard thy ducklings cry.

    There choose thy mate and nurse thy brood;
    Nor hawk nor man molest
    Thy quiet haunt, till, on some eve
    Like this, they quit their nest:
    By savage Cola's bleak recess,
    That to the hunter bars ingress,
    And suns of sultry beam;
    Or, where the water-lily sleeps,
    Rustles the reed, the alder weeps,
    By Lena's lakes and streams.

    Lone bird! a happy lot hast thou —
    An empire kings might envy — now
    Pitching thy reedy tent
    By summer cove or lake; now high,
    In company with Liberty,
    A wingèd emigrant.

    A free, blithe wanderer of air,
    Of joy or grief thou tak'st no care,
    Save of the passing one;
    The future, past, alike unspied,
    All memory would vainly hide,
    And fear as vainly shun.

    The graves, beneath thy roving wing,
    Of former mate or nurseling, bring
    No tear into thine eye;
    But thy affections still, though they
    Their objects win, unwept decay,
    And unregretted die.

  2. To a Sea-Bird

    by Bret Harte

    Sauntering hither on listless wings,
    Careless vagabond of the sea,
    Little thou heedest the surf that sings,
    The bar that thunders, the shale that rings, —
    Give me to keep thy company.

    Little thou hast, old friend, that's new,
    Storms and wrecks are old things to thee;
    Sick am I of these changes, too;
    Little to care for, little to rue,—
    I on the shore, and thou on the sea.

    All of thy wanderings, far and near,
    Bring thee at last to shore and me;
    All of my journeyings end them here,
    This our tether must be our cheer,—
    I on the shore, and thou on the sea.

    Lazily rocking on ocean's breast,
    Something in common, old friend, have we;
    Thou on the shingle seek'st thy nest,
    I to the waters look for rest, —
    I on the shore, and thou on the sea.

  3. The Sea-Bird

    by Anna Maria Wells

    Sea-Bird! haunter of the wave,
    Happy o'er its crest to hover;
    Half-engulph'd where yawns the cave
    Billows form in rolling over.

    Sea-bird! seeker of the storm,
    In its shriek thou dost rejoice;
    Sending from thy bosom warm,
    Answer shriller than its voice.

    Bird of nervous wing and bright,
    Flashing silvery to the sun,
    Sporting with the sea-foam white,
    When will thy wild course be done?

    Whither tends it? Has the shore
    No alluring haunt for thee?
    Nook with tangled vines run o'er,
    Scented shrub, or leafy tree?

    Is the purple sea-weed rarer
    Than the violet of spring?
    Is the snowy foam-wreath fairer
    Than the apple's blossoming?

    Shady grove and sunny slope,
    Seek but these, and thou shalt meet
    Birds not born with storm to cope,
    Hermits of retirement sweet.

    Where no winds too rudely swell,
    But, in whispers as they pass,
    Of the fragrant flow'ret tell,
    Hidden in the tender grass.

    There, the mock-bird sings of love;
    There, the robin builds his nest;
    There, the gentle-hearted dove,
    Brooding, takes her blissful rest.

    Sea-bird, stay thy rapid flight: —
    Gone! — where dark waves foam and dash,
    Like a lone star on the night
    From afar his white wings flash!

    He obeyeth God's behest:
    Each and all some mission fill;
    Some, the tempest born to breast,
    Some, to worship and be still.

    If to struggle with the atorm
    On life's ever-changing sea,
    Where cold mists enwrap the form,
    My harsh destiny must be;

    Sea-bird! thus may I abide
    Cheerful the allotment given;
    And above the ruffled tide
    Soar at last, like thee, to Heaven!

  4. The Stormy Petrel

    by Bryan Waller Procter

    A thousand miles from land are we,
    Tossing about on the roaring sea,&mdash
    From billow to bounding billow cast,
    Like fleecy snow on the stormy blast.
    The sails are scattered abroad like weeds;
    The strong masts shake like quivering reeds;
    The mighty cables and iron chains,
    The hull, which all earthly strength disdains,&mdash
    They strain and they crack; and hearts like stone
    Their natural, hard, proud strength disown.

    Up and down!—up and down!
    From the base of the wave to the billow's crown,
    And amidst the flashing and feathery foam
    The stormy petrel finds a home,&mdash
    A home, if such a place may be
    For her who lives on the wide, wide sea,
    On the craggy ice, in the frozen air,
    And only seeketh her rocky lair
    To warm her young, and to teach them to spring
    At once o'er the waves on their stormy wing!

    O'er the deep!—o'er the deep!
    Where the whale and the shark and the swordfish sleep,&mdash
    Outflying the blast and the driving rain,
    The petrel telleth her tale&mdashin vain;
    For the mariner curseth the warning bird
    Which bringeth him news of the storm unheard!
    Ah! thus does the prophet, of good or ill,
    Meet hate from the creatures he serveth still;
    Yet he ne'er falter,&mdashso, petrel, spring
    Once more o'er the waves on thy stormy wing!

  5. The Little Beach-Bird

    by Richard Henry Dana

    Thou little bird, thou dweller by the sea,
    Why takest thou its melancholy voice,
    And with that boding cry
    Why o'er the waves dost fly?
    O, rather, bird, with me
    Through the fair land rejoice!

    Thy flitting form comes ghostly dim and pale,
    As driven by a beating storm at sea;
    Thy cry is weak and scared,
    As if thy mates had shared
    The doom of us. Thy wail,—
    What doth it bring to me?

    Thou call'st along the sand, and haunt'st the surge,
    Restless, and sad; as if, in strange accord
    With the motion and the roar
    Of waves that drive to shore,
    One spirit did ye urge—
    The Mystery—the Word.

    Of thousands, thou, both sepulchre and pall,
    Old Ocean! A requiem o'er the dead,
    From out thy gloomy cells,
    A tale of mourning tells,—
    Tells of man's woe and fall,
    His sinless glory fled.

    Then turn thee, little bird, and take thy flight
    Where the complaining sea shall sadness bring
    Thy spirit nevermore.
    Come, quit with me the shore,
    For gladness and the light,
    Where birds of summer sing.

  6. Sea-Birds

    by Jessie Belle Rittenhouse

    Birds that float upon a wave,
    Resting from the tiring air,
    Be the hopes that I would save
    From despair!

    Menaced by the sky above,
    Menaced by the deep below,
    You rock as on the breast of Love,
    To and fro.

    If immensities like these
    Cannot fright a thing so frail,
    I will keep my heart at ease
    In the gale!