Friday, 19 May 2017

Dead Poets Society #39 Norman McCaig: Whales

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Whales by Norman MacCaig

I saw a live whale once
only, disporting itself with what seemed
ungainly playfulness in the cold
waters of the Minch.

Dead ones - they lay anchored
in Ardhasaig Bay,
skidded on by gulls, waiting
to be lugged by a fussy winch
on to the flensing platform.

What unimaginable leagues they had travelled,
shouldering aside great storms, sounding
to the dark stillness of the sea's foot,
absurd amongst the ice-floes.

Now, through the thickest fog of all,
they were starting on a new stage
of their journey - whose end would be
hairbrushes, margarine, oil,
fertiliser, perfume - a sad
transmigration of bodies
for that peaceful, clownish monster, bucking
in a ten thousand-mile carousel
round the Pole, a hundred-ton oildrop, sliding
through the harshest of waters and
tossing up over them
playful plumes.

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