You would think the fury of aerial bombardment Would rouse God to relent; the infinite spaces Are still silent. He looks on shock-pried faces. History, even, does not know what is meant. You would feel that after so many centuries God would give man to repent; yet he can kill As Cain could, but with multitudinous will, No farther advanced than in his ancient furies Was man made stupid to see his own stupidity? Is God by definition indifferent, beyond us all? Is the eternal truth man's fighting soul Wherein the Beast ravens in its own avidity? Of Van Wettering I speak, and Averill, Names on a list, whose faces I do not recall But they are gone to early death, who late in school Distinguished the belt feed lever from the belt holding pawl.
nine birds (rising through a gold moment) climb: ing i -nto wintry twi- light (all together a manying one -ness) nine souls only alive with a single mys- tery ( liftingly caught upon falling) silent! ly living the dying of glory
I sit in the top of the wood, my eyes closed. Inaction, no falsifying dream Between my hooked head and hooked feet: Or in sleep rehearse perfect kills and eat. The convenience of the high trees! The air's buoyancy and the sun's ray Are of advantage to me; And the earth's face upward for my inspection. My feet are locked upon the rough bark. It took the whole of Creation To produce my foot, my each feather: Now I hold Creation in my foot Or fly up, and revolve it all slowly - I kill where I please because it is all mine. There is no sophistry in my body: My manners are tearing off heads - The allotment of death. For the one path of my flight is direct Through the bones of the living. No arguments assert my right: The sun is behind me. Nothing has changed since I began. My eye has permitted no change. I am going to keep things like this.
Robinson Jeffers, 1887–1962
I The broken pillar of the wing jags from the clotted shoulder, The wing trails like a banner in defeat, No more to use the sky forever but live with famine And pain a few days: cat nor coyote Will shorten the week of waiting for death, there is game without talons. He stands under the oak-bush and waits The lame feet of salvation; at night he remembers freedom And flies in a dream, the dawns ruin it. He is strong and pain is worse to the strong, incapacity is worse. The curs of the day come and torment him At distance, no one but death the redeemer will humble that head, The intrepid readiness, the terrible eyes. The wild God of the world is sometimes merciful to those That ask mercy, not often to the arrogant. You do not know him, you communal people, or you have forgotten him; Intemperate and savage, the hawk remembers him; Beautiful and wild, the hawks, and men that are dying, remember him. II I’d sooner, except the penalties, kill a man than a hawk; but the great redtail Had nothing left but unable misery From the bones too shattered for mending, the wing that trailed under his talons when he moved. We had fed him for six weeks, I gave him freedom, He wandered over the foreland hill and returned in the evening, asking for death, Not like a beggar, still eyed with the old Implacable arrogance. I gave him the lead gift in the twilight. What fell was relaxed, Owl-downy, soft feminine feathers; but what Soared: the fierce rush: the night-herons by the flooded river cried fear at its rising Before it was quite unsheathed from reality.
Edward Thomas, 1878–1917
Downhill I came, hungry, and yet not starved; Cold, yet had heat within me that was proof Against the North wind; tired, yet so that rest Had seemed the sweetest thing under a roof. Then at the inn I had food, fire, and rest, Knowing how hungry, cold, and tired was I. All of the night was quite barred out except An owl’s cry, a most melancholy cry Shaken out long and clear upon the hill, No merry note, nor cause of merriment, But one telling me plain what I escaped And others could not, that night, as in I went. And salted was my food, and my repose, Salted and sobered, too, by the bird’s voice Speaking for all who lay under the stars, Soldiers and poor, unable to rejoice.
Thomas Hardy, 1840 – 1928
I leant upon a coppice gate When Frost was spectre-gray, And Winter’s dregs made desolate The weakening eye of day. The tangled bine-stems scored the sky Like strings of broken lyres, And all mankind that haunted nigh Had sought their household fires. The land’s sharp features seemed to be The Century’s corpse outleant, His crypt the cloudy canopy, The wind his death-lament. The ancient pulse of germ and birth Was shrunken hard and dry, And every spirit upon earth Seemed fervourless as I. At once a voice arose among The bleak twigs overhead In a full-hearted evensong Of joy illimited; An aged thrush, frail, gaunt, and small, In blast-beruffled plume, Had chosen thus to fling his soul Upon the growing gloom. So little cause for carolings Of such ecstatic sound Was written on terrestrial things Afar or nigh around, That I could think there trembled through His happy good-night air Some blessed Hope, whereof he knew And I was unaware.
Wallace Stevens, 1879 – 1955
Chieftain Iffucan of Azcan in caftan Of tan with henna hackles, halt! Damned universal cock, as if the sun Was blackamoor to bear your blazing tail. Fat! Fat! Fat! Fat! I am the personal. Your world is you. I am my world. You ten-foot poet among inchlings. Fat! Begone! An inchling bristles in these pines, Bristles, and points their Appalachian tangs, And fears not portly Azcan nor his hoos.
John Clare, 1793-1864
Little trotty wagtail he went in the rain
And tittering, tottering sideways he neer got straight again
He stooped to get a worm, and looked up to get a fly
And then he flew away ere his feathers they were dry
Little trotty wagtail, he waddled in the mud
And left his little footmarks, trample where he would
He waddled in the water-pudge, and waggle went his tail
And chirrupt up his wings to dry upon the garden rail
Little trotty wagtail, you nimble all about
And in the dimpling water-pudge you waddle in and out
Your home is nigh at hand, and in the warm pig-stye
So, little Master Wagtail, I’ll bid you a good-bye.
Matthew Arnold, 1822–1888
Hark! ah, the nightingale— The tawny-throated! Hark, from that moonlit cedar what a burst! What triumph! hark!—what pain! O wanderer from a Grecian shore, Still, after many years, in distant lands, Still nourishing in thy bewilder'd brain That wild, unquench'd, deep-sunken, old-world pain— Say, will it never heal? And can this fragrant lawn With its cool trees, and night, And the sweet, tranquil Thames, And moonshine, and the dew, To thy rack'd heart and brain Afford no balm? Dost thou to-night behold, Here, through the moonlight on this English grass, The unfriendly palace in the Thracian wild? Dost thou again peruse With hot cheeks and sear'd eyes The too clear web, and thy dumb sister's shame? Dost thou once more assay Thy flight, and feel come over thee, Poor fugitive, the feathery change Once more, and once more seem to make resound With love and hate, triumph and agony, Lone Daulis, and the high Cephissian vale? Listen, Eugenia— How thick the bursts come crowding through the leaves! Again—thou hearest? Eternal passion! Eternal pain!
Robert Frost (1874–1963)
THE HOUSE had gone to bring again To the midnight sky a sunset glow. Now the chimney was all of the house that stood, Like a pistil after the petals go. The barn opposed across the way, 5 That would have joined the house in flame Had it been the will of the wind, was left To bear forsaken the place’s name. No more it opened with all one end For teams that came by the stony road 10 To drum on the floor with scurrying hoofs And brush the mow with the summer load. The birds that came to it through the air At broken windows flew out and in, Their murmur more like the sigh we sigh 15 From too much dwelling on what has been. Yet for them the lilac renewed its leaf, And the aged elm, though touched with fire; And the dry pump flung up an awkward arm; And the fence post carried a strand of wire. 20 For them there was really nothing sad. But though they rejoiced in the nest they kept, One had to be versed in country things Not to believe the phoebes wept.