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The Eagle

From The Birmingham Age Herald, December 7, 1913. By Robert Browning.

Dervish Ferishtah walked the woods one eve,
And noted on a bough a raven’s nest
Whereof each youngling gaped with callow beak
Widened by want; for why? beneath the tree
Dead lay the mother bird, “A piteous chance!
How shall they ‘scape destruction?” sighed the sage
—Or sage about to be, though simple still.
Responsive to which doubt, sudden there swooped
An eagle downward, and behold he bore
(Great hearted) in his talons flesh wherewith
He stayed their craving, then resought the sky.
“Ah, foolish, foolish me!” the observer smiled,
“Who toil and moil to eke out life, when lo,
Providence cares for every hungry mouth!”
To profit by which lesson, home went he,
And certain days sat musing—neither meat
Nor drink would purchase by his handiwork.
Then—for his head swam and his limbs grew faint—
Sleep overtook the unwise one, whom in dream
God thus admonished: “Hast thou marked my deed?
Which part assigned by Providence dost judge
Was meant for man’s example? Should he play
The helpless weakling, or the helpful strength
That captures prey and saves the perishing?
Sluggard, arise, work, eat, then feed who lack!”

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