William Rose Benét: The Falconer of God

The Falconer of God

William Rose Benét

I flung my soul to the air like a falcon flying. I said, "Wait on, wait on, while I ride below!     I shall start a heron soon     In the marsh beneath the moon — A strange white heron rising with silver on its wings,        Rising and crying     Wordless, wondrous things; The secret of the stars, of the world's heart-strings,     The answer to their woe. Then stoop thou upon him, and grip and hold him so!"
   My wild soul waited on as falcons hover.    I beat the reedy fens as I trampled past.     I heard the mournful loon     In the marsh beneath the moon. And then — with feathery thunder — the bird of my desire        Broke from the cover     Flashing silver fire.    High up among the stars I saw his pinions spire.     The pale clouds gazed aghast As my falcon stoopt upon him, and gript and held him fast.
My soul dropt through the air — with heavenly plunder? — Gripping the dazzling bird my dreaming knew?     Nay! but a piteous freight,     A dark and heavy weight Despoiled of silver plumage, its voice forever stilled, —        All of the wonder     Gone that ever filled Its guise with glory.  Oh, bird that I have killed,     How brilliantly you flew Across my rapturous vision when first I dreamed of you!
   Yet I fling my soul on high with new endeavor,    And I ride the world below with a joyful mind.     I shall start a heron soon     In the marsh beneath the moon — A wondrous silver heron its inner darkness fledges!        I beat forever     The fens and the sedges.    The pledge is still the same — for all disastrous pledges,        All hopes resigned! My soul still flies above me for the quarry it shall find.