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Robinson Jeffers

(10 January 1887 – 20 January 1962 / Allegheny, Pennsylvania)

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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.

Submitted: Monday, January 13, 2003
Edited: Friday, July 07, 2006
# 466 poem on top 500 Poems


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Read poems about / on: beautiful, sorry, ocean, death, work, red, heaven, sea, light

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  • Veteran Poet - 5,009 Points Kim Barney (12/1/2014 8:51:00 AM)

    Amazing. I was intrigued from the beginning, because I love to watch vultures flying, but then the abrupt thought of becoming part of one by being eaten, that just blew me away! (Report) Reply

  • Gold Star - 33,905 Points Aftab Alam Khursheed (12/1/2014 3:24:00 AM)

    So beautiful each word is measured rhythmical - That I was sorry to have disappointed him. To be eaten by that beak I am Alive and not dead (Report) Reply

  • Bronze Star - 6,138 Points Frank Avon (8/31/2014 12:42:00 AM)

    Incredibly good poem on a subject that one would not expect. The poet's vision transforms the reader's vision seamlessly. I wish I could see how the poem actually looks on a page; this would help me know how to read it orally. (Report) Reply

  • Veteran Poet - 3,571 Points Savita Tyagi (12/1/2013 9:49:00 AM)

    Beautiful poem. When fear is not there beauty can be seen all around. Also a sense of oneness that goes beyond bodily existence. (Report) Reply

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