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Celia Thaxter (1835-1894)

The Shag


              1"What is that great bird, sister, tell me,
              2    Perched high on the top of the crag?"
              3"'T is the cormorant, dear little brother;
              4    The fishermen call it the shag."

              5"But what does it there, sister, tell me,
              6    Sitting lonely against the black sky?"
              7"It has settled to rest, little brother;
              8    It hears the wild gale wailing high."

              9"But I am afraid of it, sister,
            10    For over the sea and the land
            11It gazes, so black and so silent!"
            12    "Little brother, hold fast to my hand."

            13"Oh, what was that, sister? The thunder?
            14    Did the shag bring the storm and the cloud,
            15The wind and the rain and the lightning?"
            16    "Little brother, the thunder roars loud.

            17"Run fast, for the rain sweeps the ocean;
            18    Look! over the light-house it streams;
            19And the lightning leaps red, and above us
            20    The gulls fill the air with their screams."

            21O'er the beach, o'er the rocks, running swiftly,
            22    The little white cottage they gain;
            23And safely they watch from the window
            24    The dance and the rush of the rain.

            25But the shag kept his place on the headland,
            26    And when the brief storm had gone by,
            27He shook his loose plumes, and they saw him
            28    Rise splendid and strong in the sky.

            29Clinging fast to the gown of his sister,
            30    The little boy laughed as he flew;
            31"He is gone with the wind and the lightning!
            32    And -- I am not frightened, -- are you?"


Online text copyright © 2003, Ian Lancashire for the Department of English, University of Toronto.
Published by the Web Development Group, Information Technology Services, University of Toronto Libraries.

Original text: Celia Thaxter, Stories and Poems for Children (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1911): 156-57. J REF 811 THA Lillian H. Smith Library, Toronto.
RPO poem editor: Ian Lancashire
RP edition: RPO 2000.
Recent editing: 2:2002/1/24

Rhyme: abcb


Other poems by Celia Thaxter