Eagle over the Hudson River

Eagle over the Hudson River

Sometimes in the fiercest driving storm
           of wind and rain or hail or snow
a great eagle will appear over the river
           now soaring with steady
and now thrashing wings
           always confronting the gale
or perhaps cleaving into it
           or at times literally sitting upon it

It’s like reading some first-class
           natural tragedy or epic
or hearing martial trumpets
           : the splendid bird
enjoys the hubbub
           is adjusted and equal to it
finishes it so artistically
           his pinions just oscillating
the position of head and neck
           his resistless varied flight
now a swirl
           now an upward rush
the black clouds driving
           and down below
the angry wash
           the hiss of rain
the wind’s piping
           the bird tacking or jibing

and now for a moment
           abandoning himself to the gale
racing with it at such speed
           and now resuming control
he comes up against it
           lord of the situation and the storm
lord in the midst of it
           of power and savage joy

Walt Whitman

From Specimen Days (1882), adapted by John Lyons


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