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Sea-Gulls of Manhattan

Written by: Henry Van Dyke | Biography
 | Quotes (25) |
 Children of the elemental mother, 
Born upon some lonely island shore 
Where the wrinkled ripples run and whisper,
Where the crested billows plunge and roar; 
Long-winged, tireless roamers and adventurers,
Fearless breasters of the wind and sea,
In the far-off solitary places
I have seen you floating wild and free! 

Here the high-built cities rise around you;
Here the cliffs that tower east and west, 
Honeycombed with human habitations,
Have no hiding for the sea-bird's nest: 
Here the river flows begrimed and troubled;
Here the hurrying, panting vessels fume, 
Restless, up and down the watery highway,
While a thousand chimneys vomit gloom.
Toil and tumult, confiict and confusion, Clank and clamor of the vast machine Human hands have built for human bondage -- Yet amid it all you float serene; Circling, soaring, sailing, swooping lightly Down to glean your harvest from the wave; In your heritage of air and water, You have kept the freedom Nature gave.
Even so the wild-woods of Manhattan Saw your wheeling flocks of white and grey; Even so you fluttered, followed, floated, Round the Half-Moon creeping up the bay; Even so your voices creaked and chattered, Laughing shrilly o'er the tidal rips, While your black and beady eyes were glistening Round the sullen British prison-ships.
Children of the elemental mother, Fearless floaters 'mid the double blue, From the crowded boats that cross the ferries Many a longing heart goes out to you.
Though the cities climb and close around us, Something tells us that our souls are free, While the sea-gulls fly above the harbor, While the river flows to meet the sea!



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