Thursday, February 21, 2008

"The intrepid readiness, the terrible eyes"

Hurt Hawks
by Robinson Jeffers (1887-1962)


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. (more)

From The Selected Poetry of Robinson Jeffers (2001). Text via Poetry Foundation.

Photo from Wikimedia Commons.


Anonymous said...

I'm awe-striken. And look at his face, that goes with his poem, that goes with his story. He's so all of one piece that even if you don't like it, you have to admire the integrity. Where do you get this stuff?!

Mary said...

Really cool. I was recently reading something about totemic animals, and the hawk is such an important bird in so many cultures. It symbolizes clear-sightedness and strong memory.

BitterGrace said...

It comes to me in dreams, Renee ;-)

Hawks are amazing animals, Mary--physically, spiritually, in every way. They just capture the imagination. I think I told the story on POL about one of my dogs watching a hawk hunt. She was perfectly rapt, just as I was, and she sat perfectly still for at least five minutes, watching the hawk feed. She has never sat still that long for anything else!