Robert Kirkland Kernighan

(25 April 1854 – 3 November 1926 / Ontario)

The Genesis Of A Soul - Poem by Robert Kirkland Kernighan

When I crawl and creep in the withered grass,

And, hid among rocks, I lie ;

When my nimble tongue is as smooth as glass,

And I hiss at the passer-by ;

When I crawl along in the shaded brake

With sinuous motion, slow ;
I know that my soul was the soul of a snake

Ten thousand years ago.

But when I wing my way aloft,

And float with the clouds on high ;
When I dip my wings in the azure soft,

And nations 'neath me lie ;
When thunder voices beneath me roll,

And lightnings come and go,
I know that my soul was an eagle's soul

Nine thousand years ago.

And when I long for fever beds,

On banks of slime and mud,
Where saurians rear -their hideous heads

On the brink of the sullen flood ;
When I moan for the mud of a night-time Nile,

Or deep morass, I know
My soul was the soul of a crocodile

Six thousand years ago.

But when my heart is light and gay,
I long for meadows free,



THE KHAN'S CANTICLES. 59

Where grass and flow'rs, the livelong day,

Tell wondrous tales to me ;
When I love the light and hate the dark,

And trill a song, I know
My soul was the soul of a meadow lark

Four thousand years ago.

But when I shrink from every sound

When fancies make me flee ;
And when, in hiding underground,

A whisper frightens me ;
When I crop in fear my daily dole,

Then run and hide, I know
My soul was a poor little rabbit's soul

Three thousand years ago.

But when I trod the wood or plain,

Devoid of fear or care,
And go my way in proud disdain,

Prepared to do and dare ;
When thro' the hills my thunders roll,

When jackals crouch, I know
My soul was a lordly lion's soul

Two thousand years ago.

But when I feed the poor and weak,

And prop the lame and gray ;
And when I take my staff and seek

The lamb that 's gone astray ;
'Tis when my heart is free from taint,

Or any guile, I know
My soul of souls was the soul of a saint

One thousand years ago.


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Poem Submitted: Saturday, May 12, 2012



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