Robert Kirkland Kernighan
A Float On A Floe - Poem by Robert Kirkland Kernighan
For I was tired of the country,
And sick of the city's sin ;
So I sat on the wharf, and wond'ring, watched
The floe ice floating in.
I saw it come from Hanlan's Point,
With a sou'west wind abaft ;
And I looked on a floe 'neath my feet below
As a welcome God-sent raft.
To take me to the sea, to be fresh and free
As the grey gulls overhead ;
And I wished no more to be a babe,
Or else be asleep or dead.
So I stepped aboard like a Viking lord,
And jauntily waved my hat ;
For I was king of an acre of ice
Though it might have been more than that.
I had no sails but the waves and wind,
And I had no sweep or oar ;
I danced like mad at the very thought
That I 'd see the land no more.
My home was a Venice all made of ice :
My roof unmeasured sky ;
Did poets sing of such a king,
Or a sailor such as I ?
No ! for I was far from soil and sin,
And God had made my ship ;
Away I went, no canvas bent,
On a long an endless trip.
I stamped my foot upon the deck,
And named my ship ' Good Luck ;'
Oh ! I was the wonder of every bird,
The gull and the fleet- winged duck.
And wild geese coming from the south,
Yahonking through the sky ;
Ah, the gander thought that I was mad,
And winked his blood-red eye.
The lake that loved my own ' Good Luck,'
It sucked me south to sea ;
Oh, did n't I dance, and sing, and prance,
And scream with very glee !
And did n't the gulls with tired wings
Look down and envy me ?
But everything envied me and mine,
My chaste and sailless ship ;
And the very waves I thought my friend,
Seemed to sob and moan and sip ;
And fretted her sides with tireless lips,
Till she slowly wore away ;
And the geese they laughed at me by night
And the gulls they laughed by day.
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