James Montgomery

(4 November 1771 – 30 April 1854 / Irvine in Ayrshire)

The Pelican Island - Poem by James Montgomery

Light as a flake of foam upon the wind,
Keel-upward from the deep emerged a shell,
Shaped like the moon ere half her horn is fill'd;
Fraught with young life, it righted as it rose,
And moved at will along the yielding water.
The native pilot of this little bark
Put out a tier of oars on either side,
Spread to the wafting breeze a twofold sail,
And mounted up and glided down the billow
In happy freedom, pleased to feel the air,
And wander in the luxury of light.
Worth all the dead creation, in that hour,
To me appeared this lonely Nautilus,
My fellow-being, like myself,
alive.

Entranced in contemplation, vague yet sweet,
I watched its vagrant course and rippling wake,
Till I forgot the sun amidst the heavens.

IT closed, sunk, dwindled to a point, then nothing;
While the last bubble crown'd the dimpling eddy,
Through which mine eyes still giddily pursued it,
A joyous creature vaulted through the air, -
The aspiring fish that fain would be a bird,
On long, light wings, that flung a diamond-shower
Of dew-drops round its evanescent form,
Sprang into light, and instantly descended.
Ere I could greet the stranger as a friend,
Or mourn his quick departure on the surge,
A shoal of dolphins tumbling in wild glee,
Glow'd with such orient tints, they might have been
The rainbow's offspring, when it met the ocean
In that resplendent vision I had seen.
While yet in ecstasy I hung o'er these,
With every motion pouring out fresh beauties,
As though the conscious colours came and went
At pleasure, glorying in their subtile changes, -
Enormous, o'er the flood, Leviathan
Look'd forth, and from his roaring nostrils sent
Two fountains to the sky, then plunged amain
In headlong pastime through the closing gulf.


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Poem Submitted: Thursday, April 15, 2010



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