Robert William Service

(16 January 1874 - 11 September 1958 / Preston)

Euthansia


A sea-gull with a broken wing,
I found upon the kelp-strewn shore.
It sprawled and gasped; I sighed: "Poor thing!
I fear your flying days are o'er;
Sad victim of a savage gun,
So ends your soaring in the sun."

I only wanted to be kind;
Its icy legs I gently caught,
Thinking its fracture I might bind,
But fiercely in its fear it fought;
Till guessing that I meant no ill,
It glared and gaped, but lay quite still.

I took it home and gave it food,
And nursed its wing day after day.
Alas for my solicitude,
It would not eat, but pined away.
And so at last with tender hands
I took it to its native sands.
"I'll leave it where its kindred are,"
I thought, "And maybe they will cheer
And comfort it": I watched afar,
I saw them wheeling swiftly near. . . .
Awhile they hovered overhead,
Then darted down and - stabbed it dead.

When agonized is human breath,
And there's of living not a chance,
Could it not be that gentle death
Might mean divine deliverance?
Might it not seep into our skulls
To be as merciful as gulls?

Submitted: Monday, January 13, 2003

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