Poem Hunter
(25 April 1854 – 3 November 1926 / Ontario)


Poem By Robert Kirkland Kernighan

' Ya-Honk! ' Up north out on a bay
The rocking flock of wild geese lay,
The gander swimming round them all,
His voice 'Ya-honk! Ya-honk! ' let fall.
He looked above and saw the snow
Come sifting to the earth below;
He felt his wives were better far
Where warmer winds and waters are.
Ya-honk! Ya-honk! ' They know him well
His meaning none hath need to tell:
He counts them all with anxious eye,
Then southward like the storm they fly,
While ever and anon the note

Falls from his red and panting throat

'Ya-honk! '

' Ya-honk! Ya-honk! ' His eye is red,
His bill is yellow and his head
Is strong and broad, his breast is white,
The grey upon his back is light,
His neck is wondrous straight and long,
His wings are mighty, swift, and strong;
His voice is masculine and harsh:

It falls on meadow, mere and marsh
' Ya-honk! '

'Ya-honk! Ya-honk! ' 'Tis in the night
He takes his wild and weird flight;
He leads his wild wives thro' the sky.
With winkless and unerring eye;
He guides them safe from dark to dawn:
He comes 'Ya-honk! Ya-honk! ' he's gone.
The list'ning hunter crys, ' Yo-ho! '
He, scornful, drops his voice below
'Ya-honk! '

' Ya-honk! ' He leads them with that cry;
They, faithful, follow him or die.
'Ya-honk! Ya-honk! Ya-honk! ' he calls,
None faithless from his rude rank falls.
They urge their wings, the wind 's outstript,
The cobwebs from the moon are whipped;
They fondly follow him who leads
Who sows the swamps with sounding seeds
'Ya-honk! Ya-honk! '

' Ya-honk! Ya-honk! ' To-night afar
They rest their wings where waters are;
They rock and rest in some still lake
Which they for months will not forsake;
But when the spring time comes again
And skies are wet with April rain,
Go, listen on the marshy shore,
You'll hear them surging north once more;
But fear not if you are alone
To hear a voice fall like a stone
'Ya-honk! '

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