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JEFFERS, Robinson


Vulture

I had walked since dawn and lay down to rest on a bare hillside

Above the ocean. I saw through half-shut eyelids a vulture wheeling

high up in heaven,

And presently it passed again, but lower and nearer, its orbit

narrowing,

I understood then

That I was under inspection. I lay death-still and heard the flight-

feathers

Whistle above me and make their circle and come nearer.

I could see the naked red head between the great wings

Bear downward staring. I said, 'My dear bird, we are wasting time

here.

These old bones will still work; they are not for you.' But how

beautiful

he looked, gliding down

On those great sails; how beautiful he looked, veering away in the

sea-light

over the precipice. I tell you solemnly

That I was sorry to have disappointed him. To be eaten by that beak

and

become part of him, to share those wings and those eyes--

What a sublime end of one's body, what an enskyment; what a life

after death.


The Beginning and the End
…..
What is this thing called life? I believe

That the earth and the stars too, and the whole glittering universe, and rocks on the mountains have life,

Only we do not call it so--I speak of the life

That oxidizes fats and proteins and carbo-

Hydrates to live on, and from that chemical energy

Makes pleasure and pain, wonder, love, adoration, hatred and terror: how do these things grow

From a chemical reaction?

I think they were here already, I think the rocks

And the earth and the other planets, and the stars and the galaxies

have their various consciousness, all things are conscious;

But the nerves of an animal, the nerves and brain

Bring it to focus; the nerves and brain are like a burning-glass
To concentrate the heat and make it catch fire:

It seems to us martyrs hotter than the blazing hearth

From which it came. So we scream and laugh, clamorous animals

Born howling to die groaning: the old stones in the dooryard

Prefer silence; but those and all things have their own awareness,

As the cells of a man have; they feel and feed and influence each other, each unto all,

Like the cells of a man's body making one being,

They make one being, one consciousness, one life, one God.
…..


Hurt Hawks 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.