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10 April 2013

The Penguin.

Because some ideas won't go away until you feed them some fish.

I really do like penguins. Especially Emperor Penguins. I've felt the urge to visit them, the urge to cuddle them and the urge to shout "WHY DON'T YOU JUST MOVE TO QUEENSLAND?" whenever I see them. But I've never felt the urge to write about them. Until my darling sister, in one of her rare visits to Twitter, popped this out:



And that was enough to get me thinking. Edgar Allan Poe. The Raven. Antarctic. Penguins. BING!

So here, with sincere apologies for mangling a masterpiece for the sake of whimsy, is a Poem about Penguins in the style of Poe.


Every frigid southern winter, as the sea begins to splinter,
Into slowly-creeping daggers frozen hard with icy hoar;
With the sunlight fast abating, penguins’ fancy turns to mating,
They’ve spent all of summer waiting, waiting patiently offshore;
Eating bucketloads of fish and tiny squid and krill offshore,
‘Til they can’t eat anymore.

Paying heed to ancient yearning, every penguin starts returning,
To the patch where they were hatched, like all their ancestors before.
Sometimes waddling, sometimes sliding, every now and then colliding,
Silent instinct gently guiding, guiding thousands with its draw;
Called to trudge a vast ice-desert by its mute, compelling draw;
Like a well-dressed army corps.

When it’s time to start their courting, male birds wander ‘round, consorting,
Strutting past the nubile females as though on a nightclub floor.
With their masterful displaying, they are elegantly saying,
“Hear my trumpeting and braying!” Braying, “Darling, I implore!
“Lie again with me this year and let’s make babies, I implore!”
Quoth each she-bird, simply: “Phwoar”.

When the deed is done and dusted, to each male an egg’s entrusted;
Warmly sheltered in their pouches, kept aloft behind each claw.
While the mother, done with breeding, and her energy receding,
Waddles off for two months’ feeding, feeding, knowing what’s in store.
Gorging gladly for herself and keeping some of it in store,
For her baby’s hungry craw.

As the females are retreating, and the squally snow starts beating
On the backs of stalwart stayers wanting vainly to withdraw;
Shielded snugly and unknowing from the cruel, relentless blowing
Is the precious cargo, growing, growing fast amidst the roar
Of those blasting, biting blizzards. Safely cloistered from the roar
Nearly sixty days and four.

When the chicks break from their coddling and start working on their waddling,
And the fathers’ famished figures are impoverished and raw,
From a distance come parading mothers calling, serenading,
To their once-plump lovers, fading, fading, creaky-boned and sore,
Who in turn will drag their thinning bodies, weary, spent and sore
For the ocean to restore.

So the cycle keeps repeating: parents parting, parents meeting,
Taking turns to forage, feed and keep the babies they adore.
Several months after conceiving, when the families start perceiving,
That they’re old enough for leaving, leaving huddled on the shore,
Chicks remain in crèches, waiting ‘til their folks come back to shore.
Soon the icy shelf will thaw.