Gulls and the Sea


For one carved instant as they flew The language had no simile-
Silver, crystal, ivory
Were tarnished. Etched upon the horizon blue,
The frieze must go unchallenged, for the lift
And carriage of the wings would stain the drift
Of stars against a tropic indigo
Or dull the parable of snow.

Now settling one by one
Within green hollows or where curled
Crest caught the spectrum from the sun,
A thousand wings are furled.
No clay-born lilies of the world Could blow as free
As those wild orchids of the sea.

E. J. Pratt
Many Moods (Macmillan 1932, p. 9)