Robert William Service (16 January 1874 - 11 September 1958 / Preston)
On silver sand where ripples curled
I counted sea-gulls seven;
Shy, secret screened from all the world,
And innocent as heaven.
They did not of my nearness know,
For dawn was barely bright,
And they were still, like spots of snow
In that pale, pearly light.
Then one went forth unto the sea
That rippled up in gold,
And there were rubies flashing free
From out its wing-unfold;
It ducked and dived in pretty play,
The while the other six
So gravely sat it seemed that they
Were marvelled by its tricks.
Then with a sudden flurry each
Down-rushed to join its mate,
And in a flash that sickle beach
With rapture was elate.
With joy they pranked till everyone
Was diamonded with spray,
Then flicked with flame to greet the sun
They rose and winged away.
But with their going, oh, the surge
Of loss they left in me!
For in my heart was born the urge,
The passion to be free.
And where each dawn with terror brings
Some tale of bale and blight,
Who would not envy silver wings,
The sea-gull in its flight!
Let me not know the soils of woe
That chain this stricken earth;
Let me forget the fear and fret
That bind men from their birth;
Let me be the one with wind and sun,
With earth and sky and sea. . . .
Oh, let me teach in living speech
God's glory - Liberty.
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