The Eagle at the Tree

Now, watch the eagle perched upon the limb;
his eyes, that seem to peer into the soul,
take in the troubled world that waits below him
and see beyond illusions of control.

How like that noble bird we seek for answers,
and take upon ourselves his inborn traits;
there still upon the branch we preen like dancers,
not understanding our purpose or fates.

Great nations take him for their sacred symbol,
and bid him clutch dual tokens, peace and war;
while discontent to let their future gambol,
they cast aside the instinct borne to soar.

This imitation eagle, one wing pinioned,
is let loose now in low, small circle flights —
a source of great amused, confused opinion,
with freedom’s duties, but none of its rights.

His talons have been dulled on greed’s coarse whetstone,
his molted feathers used to plume parades;
and old now are the songs of where he has flown,
for memory of that flight is now charade.

The tree on which he rests? False public service
in obeisance to some unseen lords;
Look, anything that comes near makes him nervous
and strain against his rough, restraining cords!

No eagle can be destined for the showplace;
on such a stage his spirit wilts and dies.
The bird of prey exists for the hunt, the chase;
to posit otherwise is to speak lies.

Who are the fools who seek to tame his spirit,
to bid him dance and entertain their whim?
Look there, not on the tree, but somewhere near it —
the selfish few who claim to own the limb.

09 JUL 2004

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