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Seagull Poems

Table of Contents

  1. The Gulls by Amos Russel Wells
  2. The Sea Gull by John Brainard
  3. Sea-Birds by Elizabeth Akers
  4. The Sea-Mew by Elizabeth Barrett Browning
  5. Return of the Gulls by Hamlin Garland
  6. The Sea-Gull by Lloyd Mifflin
  7. The Seagull by Mary Howitt
  8. Sea-Gull by Isaac McLellan

  1. The Gulls

    by Amos Russel Wells

    I watched the gulls in shimmering changeful flight,
    Darting and wheeling on incessant wing,
    And each a buoyant and impulsive thing,
    Kin to the smiling sea and sunny light;
    Until, down swooping from his azure height,
    One broke his air-play into plundering,
    Snatched out his victim from a wave a-swing.

    And spoiled that paradise with murderous blight.
    "Thus, thus," I thought, "the blessed angels know
    Our mortal sporting in diviner air,
    How happily our fancies come and go
    On wings of sweet ideals high and fair;
    And how, alas we often plunge below
    On brutal errands in the waves of care."

  2. The Sea Gull

    by John Brainard

    "Ibis et redibis nunquam peribis in bello." — Oracle.

    I seek not the grove where the wood-robins whistle,
    Where the light sparrows sport, and the linnets pair;
    I seek not the bower where the ring-doves nestle,
    For none but the maid and her lover are there.

    On the clefts of the wave-washed rock I sit,
    When the ocean is roaring and raving nigh;
    On the howling tempest I scream and flit,
    With the storm in my wing, and the gale in my eye.

    And when the bold sailor climbs the mast,
    And sets his canvass gallantly,
    Laughing at all his perils past,
    And seeking more on the mighty sea;

    I'll flit to his vessel, and perch on the truck,
    Or sing in the hardy pilot's ear;
    That her deck shall be like my wave-washed rock,
    And her top like my nest when the storm is near.

    Her cordage, the branches that I will grace—
    Her rigging, the grove where I will whistle;
    Her wind-swung hammock, my pairing place,
    Where I by the seaboy's side will nestle.

    And when the fight, like the storm, comes on,
    'Mid the warrior's shout and the battle's noise,
    I'll cheer him by the deadly gun,
    'Till he loves the music of its voice.

    And if death's dark mist shall his eye bedim,
    And they plunge him beneath the fathomless wave,
    A wild note shall sing his requiem,
    And a white wing flap o'er his early grave.

  3. Sea-Birds

    by Elizabeth Akers

    O lonesome sea-gull, floating far
    Over the ocean's icy waste,
    Aimless and wide thy wanderings are,
    Forever vainly seeking rest:—
    Where is thy mate, and where thy nest?

    'Twixt wintry sea and wintry sky,
    Cleaving the keen air with thy breast,
    Thou sailest slowly, solemnly;
    No fetter on thy wing is pressed:—
    Where is thy mate, and where thy nest?

    O restless, homeless human soul,
    Following for aye thy nameless quest,
    The gulls float, and the billows roll;
    Thou watchest still, and questionest:—
    Where is thy mate, and where thy nest?

  4. The Sea-Mew

    by Elizabeth Barrett Browning

    How joyously the young sea-mew
    Lay dreaming on the waters blue,
    Whereon our little bark had thrown
    A little shade, the only one,—
    But shadows ever man pursue.

    Familiar with the waves and free
    As if their own white foam were he,
    His heart upon the heart of ocean
    Lay learning all its mystic motion,
    And throbbing to the throbbing sea.

    And such a brightness in his eye,
    As if the ocean and the sky
    Within him had lit up and nursed
    A soul God gave him not at first
    To comprehend their majesty.

    We were not cruel, yet did sunder
    His white wing from the blue waves under,
    And bound it, while his fearless eyes
    Shone up to ours in calm surprise,
    As deeming us some ocean wonder!

    We bore our ocean bird unto
    A grassy place, where he might view
    The flowers that curtsey to the bees,
    The waving of the tall green trees,
    The falling of the silver dew.

    But flowers of earth were pale to him
    Who had seen the rainbow fishes swim;
    And when earth's dew around him lay
    He thought of ocean's winged spray,
    And his eye waxed sad and dim.

    The green trees round him only made
    A prison with their darksome shade;
    And dropped his wing, and mourned he
    For his own boundless glittering sea—
    Albeit he knew not they could fade.

    Then One her gladsome face did bring,
    Her gentle voice's murmuring,
    In ocean's stead his heart to move
    And teach him what was human love:
    He thought it a strange, mournful thing.

    He lay down in his grief to die
    (First looking to the sea-like sky
    That hath no waves!), because, alas!
    Our human touch did on him pass,
    And, with our touch, our agony.

  5. Return of the Gulls

    by Hamlin Garland

    Far out upon the treeless sweep
    Of sun-smit plain, there come
    And go great flights of gulls.
    In hot still noon, in roar of wind,
    In mist of evening — or in cold clear dawn
    They flit in easeful flight above the swash
    Of uncut wheat, glittering like flakes
    Of snow in flaming sunlight.

    They are far from the sea —
    How came they here, these children
    Of the raw, salt winds of ocean?

    All day they wheel and dip
    And rise again — complaining, calling
    In querulous voices, calling, asking
    For something lost.
    In keen October dawns They move in myriads, with the rolling sweep
    Of foam-lined waves of water,
    Close to the sod in search of food.

    At night they settle upon the breast
    Of little alkaline lakes and sit and swing
    In the soft wash of the water,
    And talk of things far off.
    In the Winter they hasten South.

    For ages they have journeyed thus,
    Century by century, while the low land rose
    And the water wasted — aons, and still
    They came and went. Generations died,
    But the young preserved the custom.
    And now, though the land is hot
    And the sea is sunk to an alkaline pool,
    They come and come, because they bear
    Within their faithful brains the habits
    Of a thousand thousand years.

  6. The Sea-Gull

    by Lloyd Mifflin

    Oh, had I but thy wings when storms arise,
    Gray spirit of the sea and of the shore!
    When the wild waters round thee rave and roar,
    Calm art thou 'neath the tumult of the skies.
    Thy plume hath spanned the deep's immensities;
    Above her vast and ever-shifting floor
    Thou, on thy gray wing roaming, still dost soar,
    Forever drawn to where the distance lies.
    From the dim sea's unknowable extreme
    Thou comest, wandering through lone water-ways
    To cliffs empurpled and cerulean bays;
    Then, rocking near some cavern's emerald gleam,
    Thou seem'st the soul of halcyonian days —
    The restful Spirit of the sea supreme.

  7. The Sea-Gull

    by Mary Howitt

    Oh, the white seagull, the wild seagull,
    A joyful bird is he,
    As he lies like a cradled thing at rest
    In the arms of a sunny sea!
    The little waves rock to and fro,
    And the white gull lies asleep,
    As the fisher's bark, with breeze and tide,
    Goes merrily over the deep.
    The ship, with her fair sails set, goes by,
    And her people stand to note
    How the seagull sits on the rocking waves,
    As if in an anchored boat.
    The sea is fresh, the sea is fair,
    And the sky calm overhead,
    And the seagull lies on the deep, deep sea,
    Like a king in his royal bed!

    Oh, the white seagull, the bold seagull,
    A joyful bird is he,
    Throned like a king, in calm repose
    On the breast of the heaving sea!
    The waves leap up, the wild wind blows,
    And the gulls together crowd,
    And wheel about, and madly scream
    To the deep sea roaring loud;—
    And let the sea roar ever so loud,
    And the winds pipe ever so high,
    With a wilder joy the bold seagull
    Sendeth forth a wilder cry.
    For the seagull, he is a daring bird,
    And he loves with the storm to sail;
    To ride in the strength of the billowy sea;
    And to breast the driving gale.
    The little boat, she is tossed about,
    Like a seaweed, to and fro;
    The tall ship reels like a drunken man,
    As the gusty tempests blow.
    But the seagull laughs at the pride of man,
    And sails in a wild delight
    On the torn-up breast of the night-black sea,
    Like a foam-cloud, calm and white.
    The waves may rage and the winds may roar,
    But he fears not wreck nor need;
    For he rides the sea, in its stormy strength,
    As a strong man rides his steed.

    Oh, the white seagull, the bold seagull,
    He makes on the shore his nest,
    And he tries what the inland fields may be;
    But he loveth the sea the best!
    And away from land, a thousand leagues
    He goes 'mid surging foam;
    What matter to him is land or shore,
    For the sea is his truest home.
    And away to the north 'mong ice-rocks stern,
    And among the frozen snow,
    To a sea that is loan and desolate,
    Will the wanton seagull go.
    For he careth not for the winter wild,
    Nor those desert-regions chill;
    In the midst of the cold, as on calm, blue seas,
    The seagull hath his will.
    And the dead whale lies on the northern shores,
    And the seal, and the seahorse grim,
    And the death of the great sea-creatures makes
    A full, merry feast for him.

    Oh, the wild seagull, the bold seagull,
    As he screams in his wheeling flight;
    As he sits on the waves in storm or calm,
    All cometh to him aright.
    All cometh to him as he liketh best,
    Nor any his will gainsay;
    And he rides on the waves like a bold, young king,
    That was crowned but yesterday!

  8. Sea-Gull

    by Isaac McLellan

    Sea-bird, skimmer of the waves,
    Whither doth thy journey tend?
    Is it to some southern shore,
    Where the meadow-rushes bend,
    Where the orange-blossoms blow,
    Where the aloe and the palm
    Flourish, and magnolias glow,
    Filling all the air with balm?

    Rather is thy pilgrim wing
    Fleeting to some northern bar,
    Where the rocky reef juts out,
    And the sand-beach stretches far?
    There in hot and silvery sand
    All thy pearly eggs to lay,
    There to teach thy little brood
    O'er the tumbling surf to play.

    Haply sailing o'er the brine,
    Painted 'gainst a lurid sky,
    On the gray horizon's verge
    Thou dost even now descry
    Some lone bark with shatter'd mast,
    Bulwarks swept, and ragged sail,
    Fighting with the ocean-blast,
    Lost in shipwreck and in gale.

    Restless, roving, lonely bird,
    Wanderer of tlie pathless seas,
    Now where tropic woods are stirr'd,
    Now where floating icebergs freeze;
    Seldom doth the solid shore
    See thy wings expand no more.

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