Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE GRATEFUL SWAN, by ALICE CARY



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THE GRATEFUL SWAN, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: One day, a poor peddler
Last Line: "nor I!"" said his wife."
Subject(s): Birds; Swans


ONE day, a poor peddler,
Who carried a pack,
Felt something come
Flippity-flop on his back.

He looked east and west,
He turned white, he turned red,
Then bent his back lower,
And traveled ahead.

The sun was gone down
When he entered his door,
And loosened the straps
From his shoulders once more.

Then up sprang his wife,
Crying, "Bless your heart, John,
Here, sitting atop of your pack,
Is a swan.

"A wing like a lily,
A beak like a rose;
Now good luck go with her
Wherever she goes!"

"Dear me!" cried the peddler,
"What fullness of crop!
No wonder I felt her
Come flippity-flop!

"I'll bet you, good wife,
All the weight of my pack,
I've carried that bird
For ten miles on my back!"

"Perhaps," the wife answered,
"She'll lay a gold egg
To pay you; but, bless me!
She's broken a leg."

Then went to the cupboard,
And brought from the shelf
A part of the supper
She'd meant for herself.

Of course two such nurses
Effected a cure;
One leg stiff, but better
Than none, to be sure!

"No wonder," says John,
As she stood there a-lop,
"That I should have felt her
Come flippity-flop!"

Then straight to his pack
For a bandage he ran,
While Jannet, the good wife,
To splints broke her fan;

And, thinking no longer
About the gold egg,
All tenderly held her
And bound up the leg;

All summer they lived
Thus together -- the swan,
And peddler and peddler's wife
Jannet and John.

At length, when the leaves
In the garden grew brown,
The bird came one day
With her head hanging down;

And told her kind master
And mistress so dear,
She was going to leave them
Perhaps for a year.

"What mean you?" cried Jannet,
"What mean you?" cried John.
"You will see, if I ever
Come back," said the swan.

And so, with the tears
Rolling down, drip-a-drop,
She lifted her snowy wings,
Flippity-flop!

And sailed away, stretching
Her legs and her neck,
Till all they could see
Was a little white speck.

Then Jannet said, turning
Her eyes upon John,
But speaking, no doubt,
Of the bird that was gone:

"A wing like a lily,
A beak like a rose;
And good luck go with her
Wherever she goes!"

The winter was weary,
But vanished at last,
As all winters will do;
And when it was past,

And doffies beginning
To show their bright heads,
One day as our Jannet
Was making the beds --

The beds in the garden,
I'd have you to know,
She saw in the distance
A speck white as snow.

She saw it sail nearer
And nearer, then stop
And land in her garden path,
Flippity-flop!

One moment of wonder,
Then cried she, "O John!
As true as you're living, man,
Here is our swan!

"And by her sleek feathers,
She comes from the south;
But what thing is this
Shining so in her mouth?"

"A diamond!" cried Johnny;
The swan nearer drew,
And dropped it in Jannet's
Nice apron of blue;

Then held up the mended leg
Quite to her crop,
And danced her great wings
About, flippity-flop!

"I never beheld such a bird
In my life!"
Cried Johnny, the peddler;
"Nor I!" said his wife.





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