The Unconquered Air, and Other Poems (1912)/Eagles—Gibert's Battle for the Air
GIBERT'S BATTLE FOR THE AIR
It rose, and swam into the sky—
The man-made bird;
And the great Eagle saw it fly—
Saw it, and heard
The whirring of its plumeless wings,—
The bird that mounts and soars, but never sings!
The falcon-eyes that face the sun
Blinked on the flight
Of the dread creature that had won
The unwelcome right
To leave its native earth, and dare
Intrude upon the monarch of the Air!
As moved the monoplane, the man,
Strange soul of it,
Sailing the sea cerulean,
The whole of it
Seemed his; ay, subject to his sway.
Then he beheld—an Eagle in his way!
Awed, each upon the other gazed
A moment's space,
When sudden-swooping talons grazed
The pale man face,
As the fierce earn, there, mid the skies
Struck with blind fury at his rival's eyes.
Up-fluttering, the feathered king
Plunged down again.
His rushing anger seemed to bring
Fate nearer; then
The man-bird knew the moment's strife
Not for supremacy alone, but life!
With nerve that grows, in peril, great,
He toward him drew
A thing to strengthen him with Fate;
Whence instant flew
A wingéd death, and far behind
Headlong the Eagle fell, the abyss to find.
Thy fight was over, glorious bird!—
Thy scornful strength,
Which the sky's sovereignty conferred,
Subdued at length,—
An autumn leaf against the wind,
In conflict with a greater power—called Mind!