Lines on an incident observed from the deck of a steamboat on the Mississippi river

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Lines on an incident observed from the deck of a steamboat on the Mississippi river by Anne Lynch Botta
from Poems (1848)

        Where the dark primeval forests
            Rise against the western sky
        And "the Father of the Waters"
            In his strength goes rushing by:
 
        There an eagle, flying earthward
            From his eyrie far above,
        With a serpent of the forest
            In a fierce encounter strove.
 
        Now he gains and now he loses,
            Now he frees his ruffled wings;
        And now high in air he rises;
            But the serpent round him clings.
 
        In that death embrace entwining,
            Now they sink and now they rise;
        But the serpent wins the battle
            With the monarch of the skies.
 
        Yet his wings still struggle upward,
            Though that crushing weight they bear;
        But more feebly those broad pinions
            Strike the waves of upper air.
 
        Down to earth he sinks a captive
            In that writhing, living chain;
        Never o'er the blue horizon
            Will his proud form sweep again.
 
        Never more in lightning flashes
            Will his eye of terror gleam
        Round the high and rocky eyrie,
            Where his lonely eaglets scream.
 
        Oh majestic, royal eagle,
            Soaring sunward from thy birth,
        Thou hast lost the realm of heaven
            For one moment on the earth!
 

This work published before January 1, 1923 is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.