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Black Sheep

Richard Francis Burton 1821 (Torquay) – 1890 (Trieste)



FROM their folded mates they wander far,
 Their ways seem harsh and wild:
They follow the beck of a baleful star,
 Their paths are dream-beguiled.
 
Yet haply they sought but a wider range,
 Some loftier mountain slope,
And little recked of the country strange
 Beyond the gates of hope.
 
And haply a bell with a luring call
 Summoned their feet to tread
Midst the cruel rocks, where the deep pitfall
 And the lurking snare are spread.
 
Maybe, in spite of their tameless days
 Of outcast liberty,
They ’re sick at heart for the homely ways
 Where their gathered brothers be.
 
And oft at night, when the plains fall dark
 And the hills loom large and dim,
For the shepherd’s voice they mutely hark,
 And their souls go out to him.
 
Meanwhile, “Black sheep! black sheep!” we cry,
 Safe in the inner fold;
And maybe they hear, and wonder why,
 And marvel, out in the cold.

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Submitted on May 13, 2011

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Richard Francis Burton

Captain Sir Richard Francis Burton KCMG FRGS was an English geographer, explorer, translator, writer, soldier, orientalist, cartographer, ethnologist, spy, linguist, poet, Egyptologist, fencer and diplomat. He was known for his travels and explorations within Asia, Africa and the Americas, as well as his extraordinary knowledge of languages and cultures. According to one count, he spoke 29 European, Asian and African languages. Burton's best-known achievements include traveling in disguise to Mecca, an unexpurgated translation of One Thousand and One Nights, bringing the Kama Sutra to publication in English, and journeying with John Hanning Speke as the first Europeans to visit the Great Lakes of Africa in search of the source of the Nile. Burton's works and letters extensively criticized colonial policies of the British Empire, to the detriment of his career. He was a prolific and erudite author and wrote numerous books and scholarly articles about subjects including human behaviour, travel, falconry, fencing, sexual practices and ethnography. A characteristic feature of his books is the copious footnotes and appendices containing remarkable observations and information. more…

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    "Black Sheep" Poetry.com. STANDS4 LLC, 2021. Web. 26 Oct. 2021. <https://www.poetry.com/poem/30078/black-sheep>.

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