The Island Hawk, Alfred Noyes

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.

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.

An eyas in eyry, a yellow-eyed hawk,

On the old elm’s burgeoning breast,

She watcheth me sway in the wild wind’s way.

Flee– flee– for I quest, I quest.

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.

A haggard in yarak, a hawk, a 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.

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