Robert Kirkland Kernighan

(25 April 1854 – 3 November 1926 / Ontario)

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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Poem Submitted: Monday, May 14, 2012



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