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Stedman and Hutchinson, comps. A Library of American Literature:
An Anthology in Eleven Volumes. 1891.
Vols. IX–XI: Literature of the Republic, Part IV., 1861–1889

The Loon

By Alfred Billings Street (1811–1881)

[Born in Poughkeepsie, N. Y., 1811. Died at Albany, N. Y., 1881. Forest Pictures in the Adirondacks. 1865.]

TAMELESS in his stately pride, along the lake of islands,

Tireless speeds the lonely loon upon his diving track;—

Emerald and gold emblazon, satin-like, his shoulder,

Ebony and pearl inlay, mosaic-like, his back.

Sailing, thus sailing, thus sails the brindled loon,

When the wave rolls black with storm, or sleeps in summer noon.

Sailing through the islands, oft he lifts his loud bravura;—

Clarion-clear it rings, and round ethereal trumpets swell;—

Upward looks the feeding deer, he sees the aiming hunter,

Up and then away, the loon has warned his comrade well.

Sailing, thus sailing, thus sails the brindled loon,

Pealing on the solitude his sounding bugle-tune.

Sacred is the loon with eye of wild and flashing crimson;

Eye that saw the Spirit Hah-wen-ne-yo through the air

Falling, faint a star—a shaft of light—a shape of splendor—

Falling on the deep that closed that shining shape to bear.

Sailing, thus sailing, thus sailed the brindled loon

With the grand shape falling all a-glitter from the moon.

Long before the eagle furls his pinion on the pine-top,

Long before the blue-bird gleams in sapphire through the glen;

Long before the lily blots the shoal with golden apples,

Leaves the loon his southern sun to sail the lake again.

Sailing, then sailing, then sails the brindled loon,

Leading with his shouting call the Spring’s awakening croon.

Long after bitter chills have pierced the windy water,

Long after Autumn dies, all dolphin-like away;

Long after coat of russet dons the deer for winter,

Plies the solitary loon his cold and curdled bay.

Sailing, there sailing, there sails the brindled loon,

Till in chains no more to him the lake yields watery boon.