Falconry

A prince survives by unseen acts.
At night the chief advisor knocked
at Frederick's workroom in the tower
and found him formulating facts
for treatises on wingèd power
while his penman turned out text.

It was in this aerie room
he'd walked all night with her on arm,
turbulent and barely fledged.
Whatever plans then sprang to mind,
whatever fondness deeply chimed
in recollection he would trash
and tend the frightened and impassioned
thing he wished to understand.
Every night he made a time
for nothing but the young unhandled
animal. It was her staring
inborn mind he'd worked to learn,

so he was lofted with her grace
when she, the bird that nobles praise,
thrown gleaming from his hand (her wingbeats raised
into the heartfelt morning air)
and diving like an angel struck the hern.

by Rainer Maria Rilke

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