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Hawk Poems

Table of Contents

  1. The Hawk by Paul Hamilton Hayne
  2. Fighting for Home by James McIntyre
  3. The Island Hawk by Alfred Noyes
  4. The Hawk by James Edwin Campbell
  5. To a Marsh Hawk in Spring by Henry David Thoreau
  6. The Hawk by William Butler Yeats
  7. The Hawk by William Henry Davies

  1. The Hawk

    by Paul Hamilton Hayne

    Ambushed in yonder cloud of white,
    Far-glittering from its azure height,
    He shrouds his swiftness and his might!

    But oft across the echoing sky,
    Long-drawn, though uttered suddenly,
    We hear his strange, shrill, bodeful cry.

    Winged robber! in his vaporous tower
    Secure in craft, as strong in power,
    Coolly he bides the fated hour,

    When thro' cloud-rifts of shadowy rise,
    Earthward are bent his ruthless eyes,
    Where, blind to doom, the quarry lies!

    And from dense cloud to noontide glow,
    (His fiery gaze still fixed below),
    He sails on pinions proud and slow!

    Till, like a fierce, embodied ray,
    He hurtles down the dazzling day,—
    A death-flash on his startled prey;

    And where but now a nest was found,
    Voiceful, beside its grassy mound.
    A few brown feathers strew the ground!

  2. Fighting for Home

    by James McIntyre

    A hawk while soaring on the wing,
    O'er a tiny sparkling spring,
    Beheld a sleek and beauteous mink,
    Was enjoying a bath and drink.

    And though the hawk was bent on slaughter
    The mink was more at home on water,
    And it is strange this curious quarrel
    All occurred in a sunk barrel.

    In the Township of Nissouri,
    There the hawk it came to sorrow,
    But it strove often for to sink,
    In vain it strove to drown the mink,

    But mink it did successful balk,
    All the attacks were made by hawk,
    The bird was drenched, it could not fly,
    And ne'er again it soared on high.

  3. The Island Hawk

    by Alfred Noyes

    Chorus—
    Ships have swept with my conquering name
    Over the waves of war,
    Swept thrd the Spaniards' thunder and flame
    To the splendour of Trafalgar:
    On the blistered decks of their great renown,
    In the wind of my storm-beat wings,
    Hawkins and Hawke went sailing down
    To the harbour of deep-sea kings!
    By the storm-beat wings of the hawk, the hawk,
    Bent beak and pitiless breast,
    They clove their way thrd the red sea-fray:
    Who wakens me now to the quest?

    Hushed are the whimpering winds on the hill,
    Dumb is the shrinking plain,
    And the songs that enchanted the woods are still
    As I shoot to the skies again!
    Does the blood grow black on my fierce bent beak,
    Does the down still cling to my claw?
    Who brightened these eyes for the prey they seek?
    Life, I follow thy law!
    For I am the hawk, the hawk, the hawk!
    Who knoweth my pitiless breast?
    Who watcheth me sway in the wild wind’s way?
    Flee—flee—for I quest, I quest.

    As I glide and glide with my peering head,
    Or swerve at a puff of smoke,
    Who watcheth my wings on the wind outspread,
    Here–gone–with an instant stroke?
    Who toucheth the glory of life I feel
    As I buffet this great glad gale,
    Spire and spire to the cloud-world, wheel,
    Loosen my wings and sail?
    For I am the hawk, the island hawk,
    Who knoweth my pitiless breast?
    Who watcheth me sway in the sun’s bright way?
    Flee—flee—for I quest, I quest.

    Had they given me "Cloud-cuckoo-city" to guard
    Between mankind and the sky,
    Tho' the dew might shine on an April sward,
    Iris had ne'er passed by!
    Swift as her beautiful wings might be
    From the rosy Olympian hill,
    Had Epops entrusted the gates to me
    Earth were his kingdom still.
    For I am the hawk, the archer, the hawk!
    Who knoweth my pitiless breast?
    Who watcheth me sway in the wild wind's way?
    Flee—flee—for I quest, I quest.

    My mate in the nest on the high bright tree
    Blazing with dawn and dew,
    She knoweth the gleam of the world and the glee
    As I drop like a bolt from the blue:
    She knoweth the fire of the level flight
    As I skim, close, close to the ground,
    With the long grass lashing my breast and the bright
    Dew-drops flashing around.
    She watcheth the hawk, the hawk, the hawk
    (Oh, the red-blotched eggs in the nest!)
    Watcheth him sway in the sun’s bright way;
    Flee—flee—for I quest, I quest.

    She builded her nest on the high bright wold,
    She was taught in a world afar
    The lore that is only an April old
    Yet old as the evening star;
    Life of a far off ancient day
    In an hour unhooded her eyes;
    In the time of the budding of one green spray
    She was wise as the stars are wise.
    Brown flower of the tree of the hawk, the hawk,
    On the old elms burgeoning breast,
    She watcheth me sway in the wild wind's way;
    Flee—flee—for I quest, I quest.

    Spirit and sap of the sweet swift Spring,
    Fire of our island soul,
    Burn in her breast and pulse in her wing
    While the endless ages roll;
    Avatar—she—of the perilous pride
    That plundered the golden West,
    Her glance is a sword, but it sweeps too wide For a rumour to trouble her rest.
    She goeth her glorious way, the hawk,
    She nurseth her brood alone:
    She will not swoop for an owlet's whoop,
    She hath calls and cries of her own.

    There was never a dale in our isle so deep
    That her wide wings were not free
    To soar to the sovran heights and keep
    Sight of the rolling sea:
    Is it there, is it here in the rolling skies,
    The realm of her future fame?
    Look once, look once in her glittering eyes,
    Ye shall find her the same, the same.
    Up to the skies with the hawk, the hawk,
    As it was in the days of old!
    Ye shall sail once more, ye shall soar, ye shall soar
    To the new-found realms of gold.

    She hath ridden on white Arabian steeds
    Thro’ the ringing English dells,
    For the joy of a great queen, hunting in state,
    To the music of golden bells;
    A queen’s fair fingers have drawn the hood
    And tossed her aloft in the blue,
    A white hand eager for needless blood;
    I hunt for the needs of two.
    Yet I am the hawk, the hawk, the hawk!
    Who knoweth my pitiless breast?
    Who watcheth me sway in the sun's bright way?
    Flee—flee—for I quest, I quest.

    Who fashioned her wide and splendid eyes
    That have stared in the eyes of kings?
    With a silken twist she was looped to their wrist:
    She has clawed at their jewelled rings!
    Who flung her first thro’ the crimson dawn
    To pluck him a prey from the skies,
    When the love-light shone upon lake and lawn
    In the valleys of Paradise?
    Who fashioned the hawk, the hawk, the hawk,
    Bent beak and pitiless breast?
    Who watcheth him sway in the wild wind’s way?
    Flee—flee—for I quest, I quest.

    Is there ever a song in all the world
    Shall say how the quest began
    With the beak and the wings that have made us kings
    And cruel—almost—as man?
    The wild wind whimpers across the heath
    Where the sad little tufts of blue
    And the red-stained grey little feathers of death
    Flutter! Who fashioned us? Who?
    Who fashioned the scimitar wings of the hawk,
    Bent beak and arrowy breast?
    Who watcheth him sway in the sun’s bright way?
    Flee—flee—for I quest, I quest.

    Linnet and woodpecker, red-cap and jay,
    Shriek that a doom shall fall
    One day, one day, on my pitiless way
    From the sky that is over us all;
    But the great blue hawk of the heavens above
    Fashioned the world for his prey,—
    King and queen and hawk and dove,
    We shall meet in his clutch that day;
    Shall I not welcome him, I, the hawk?
    Yea, cry, as they shrink from his claw,
    Cry, as I die, to the unknown sky,
    Life, follow thy law!

    Chorus—
    Ships have swept with my conquering name . . .
    Over the world and beyond,
    Hark! Bellerophon, Marlborough, Thunderer,
    Condor, respond!—
    On the blistered decks of their dread renown,
    In the rush of my storm-beat wings,
    Hawkins and Hawke went sailing down
    To the glory of deep-sea kings!
    By the storm-beat wings of the hawk, the hawk
    Bent beak and pitiless breast,
    They clove their way thrd the red sea-fray!
    Who wakens me now to the quest.

  4. The Hawk

    by James Edwin Campbell

    This pirate of the over sea,
    No black-hulled brig he sails,
    No black flag at the mizzen-peak
    Flaunts death-heads to the gales.
    Yet fiercer than the wild Corsair
    This pirate of the upper air.

    Watch how he listless drifts along,
    His wings with winds at sport—
    But look! a sail has hove in sight,
    A dove has crossed to port.
    See how he crowds on ev'ry sail
    And screams his war-cry to the gale.

    The frightened dove—a merchantman
    Has not a gun to give him fight;
    With all her canvas to the wind,
    She tacks to starboard, wild with fright.
    Ah! vain for her this tack to take,
    Like Fate he follows in her wake!

    She weakens in her useless flight,
    The wind is beating in her face.
    But watch him as he drives along,
    His ev'ry motion—strength and grace—
    She's overhauled! Her course is run!
    A fierce, fierce scream, the chase is won!

  5. To a Marsh Hawk in Spring

    by Henry David Thoreau

    There is health in thy gray wing,
    Health of nature’s furnishing.
    Say, thou modern-winged antique,
    Was thy mistress ever sick?
    In each heaving of thy wing
    Thou dost health and leisure bring,
    Thou dost waive disease and pain
    And resume new life again.

  6. The Hawk

    by William Butler Yeats

    ‘Call down the hawk from the air;
    Let him be hooded or caged
    Till the yellow eye has grown mild,
    For larder and spit are bare,
    The old cook enraged,
    The scullion gone wild.’

    ‘I will not be clapped in a hood,
    Nor a cage, nor alight upon wrist,
    Now I have learnt to be proud
    Hovering over the wood
    In the broken mist
    Or tumbling cloud.’

    ‘What tumbling cloud did you cleave,
    Yellow-eyed hawk of the mind,
    Last evening? that I, who had sat
    Dumbfounded before a knave,
    Should give to my friend
    A pretence of wit.’

  7. The Hawk

    by William Henry Davies

    Thou dost not fly, thou art not perched,
    The air is all around:
    What is it that can keep thee set,
    From falling to the ground?
    The concentration of thy mind
    Supports thee in the air;
    As thou dost watch the small young birds,
    With such a deadly care.

    My mind has such a hawk as thou,
    It is an evil mood;
    It comes when there's no cause for grief,
    And on my joys doth brood.
    Then do I see my life in parts;
    The earth receives my bones,
    The common air absorbs my mind–
    It knows not flowers from stones.