This is a descriptive nature poem, and not particularly complicated in any way. The poet is painting a
picture with words of a stork standing on its long thin legs in the shallow waters of an African lake at dawn.
The stork appears to look both tired and sad: tired possibly because of its long flight to this spot; sad
because it is all alone, its companion storks not yet having arrived.
A NOTE ON THE POET
Douglas Livingstone was born in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, in 1932. He came to South Africa with his
family at ten years of age when his father was captured by the Japanese. He would settle in Natal where
he went to Kearsney College.
He attended university in what was then Salisbury, Rhodesia -- now Harare, Zimbabwe -- where he
trained as a bacteriologist, eventually becoming a marine biologist. He was later awarded a Ph.D. in
Science from the University of Natal.
Livingstone was employed as a marine biologist at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research in
He produced several volumes of poetry and wrote radio plays -- winning several awards, the highest
being an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Natal.
He died in Durban in 1996.
Have you looked at the questions
in the right column?
Read the left column and then answer
the following questions:
"neck flattened, ruminative,
beak on chest, contemplative eye
filmy with star vistas and hollow
black migratory leagues, strangely,
ponderously alone and some weeks
- What is the significance of using the word "ponderously" in "ponderously
- What words would one use to describe birds which live together in groups? (1)
Stretching his wings he clubbed
the air; slowly, regally, so very tired,
aiming his beak he carefully climbed
inclining to his invisible tunnel of sky,
his feet trailing a long, long time."
- The poet paints an air of sadness here. Why would the stork be sad? (4)
- What other words in this poem reinforces this image of sadness? (2)
- What words tell us that the stork does not appear to appreciate the arrival of the
- Why would the stork "club" the air? (4)
- Why would the stork's feet be "trailing a long, long time"? (4)
The term "personification" means the giving of human characteristics to animals or to inanimate
- How many examples of personification can you find? (4)