Verse > Anthologies > Jessie B. Rittenhouse, ed. > The Second Book of Modern Verse
See also: William Rose Benét Biography
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Jessie B. Rittenhouse, ed. (1869–1948).  The Second Book of Modern Verse.  1922.
 
The Falconer of God
 
William Rose Benét (1886–1950)
 
 
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,        5
          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!”        10
 
    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        15
          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.        20
 
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,—        25
          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!        30
 
    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!        35
          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.        40
 

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