No other bird so grand we see.
Pelicans We (Cosmo Shelldrake, Pelicans We) is admittedly kind of cheating since it was adapted from a poem itself, The Pelican Chorus, written by Edward Lear back in the mid 1800s. Lear is most well known for writing The Book of Nonsense, a book of silly poems often making little sense. As such, to defend this song as poetry, I only must defend poetry as poetry.
The Pelican Chorus chronicles two pelicans, the king and queen of the pelicans, as it would happen. they detail why they believe themselves and their people(birds?) are the grandest of all their feathered kin. for none but they have feet like fins, and lovely, leathery throats and chins. the poem goes on to introduce their daughter, and in her honor, a feast they made with all of the birds that can swim or wade. the pelican princess falls in love with the crane king after he offers her a crocodile egg and a large fish tart, a well known strategy among humans to acquire mates. a grand wedding is held and the two fly off happily. however, almost all of the poem is cut from the song, which only contains the first two stanzas of the 6 in the poem.
The Pelican Chorus follows an AA BB rhyme scheme, as does pelicans we. however, a poem is usually defined not so much by its literal characteristics but by its emotional characteristics, what it makes you feel rather than what is written down. under the literal definition of a poem, nearly any song fits the bill, being defined by google as “a piece of writing that partakes of the nature of both speech and song that is nearly always rhythmical, usually metaphorical, and often exhibits such formal elements as meter, rhyme, and stanzaic structure.” under this definition, all songs are poetry.
The song’s language is fantastic. find me another song that just makes up words because they’re fun to say. i especially love this because that’s the chorus. Ploffskin, Pluffskin, pelican jee! this helps enforce the vibe of the song. it specifically serves as an affront to those searching for deeper meaning, but more importantly, is fun to say. this occurs multiple times throughout the song. for example, at one point, it describes the pelicans “stamping their feet with a flompy sound”. what does that mean? hell if i know, but that’s what’s so great about it. it allows the listener to envision any sound they think flompy might mean. it also uses “the ivory ibis starlike skim” to describe nighttime. now, i have no idea what that means, but it’s nonsense verse. it’s not supposed to mean anything, its supposed to be fun to read, say, and listen to, and it succeeds in that.
Pelicans We is one of my favorite songs because of how silly it is. In our modern social climate, stress is a near constant, and Pelicans We is notably devoid of this aspect. no matter how hard you look, the only meaning you can reasonably draw is of the pelicans’ self assured attitude, and how lovely and leathery their chins are. the song is an incredible piece of media because it offers its audience to truly relax and, just for a few minutes, wing to wing, dance around, stamping their feet with a flampy sound, open their mouths as pelicans ought, and hear the song that they nightly snort.
Kinng and Queen of the Pelicans we!
No other Birds so grand we see!
None but we have feet like fins!
With lovely leathery throats and chins!
Ploffskin, Pluffskin, Pelican jee!
We think no Birds so happy as we!
Plumpskin, Ploshkin, Pelican jill!
We think so then, and we thought so still!