The Albatross

The Albatross

Derived from the poem l’Albatros by Charles Baudelaire

by Mike Horvitz
(For Gerald J. Butler)
As if some new delight discovered
  Emboldened seafarers while at sea
An albatross from heaven recovered
  An ocean’s giant trapped suddenly
Lazily did it chance to follow
  Its earthly sea-bound companion craft
Its cries now ringing sadly hollow
  As men with their implements coax it aft
Never quite earthbound this noble creature
  Mighty prince of our firmament
Afflicted with this unbefitting feature
  Now hobbles pride-shorn in mournful lament
White sails carried high on bright daylight blue
  With unfettered grandeur so well possessed
Great wings; now they drag, so painful to view
  Oar-like, pathetic, as if by curse regressed
Voyager of sky's domain, one moment he, a king,
  Then, lesser men by force inflame the rowdy mob
Display him as weak and a cumbersome poor thing
  Ignoring his beauty, belittling his beak with an old pipe cob
Laughing and belching in cowards’ raucous glee
  Do they harass and mimic his weakened state
As if by capturing, controlling he of glory
  Transfers to fools those qualities which make him great
Magnificent creature, ruler of untamed sky
  His cousin here on earth, the poet does he emulate
Enchanted, elated by tempests of soul, air and eye
  The common hunter of sport still can’t of him emasculate
And even when trapped and trammeled by ordinary men
  Who cannot distinguish true greatness from success by gun or bow
Still, though your wings of splendor be thus weighed upon then,
  The rest of us may hope to rise to that genius you did bestow.

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