(30 January 1866 – 18 September 1951 / Boston, Massachusetts)

Vulture

I had walked since dawn and lay down to rest on a bare hillside
Above the ocean. I saw through half-shut eyelids a vulture wheeling
high up in heaven,
And presently it passed again, but lower and nearer, its orbit
narrowing,
I understood then
That I was under inspection. I lay death-still and heard the flight-
feathers
Whistle above me and make their circle and come nearer.
I could see the naked red head between the great wings
Bear downward staring. I said, 'My dear bird, we are wasting time
here.
These old bones will still work; they are not for you.' But how
beautiful
he looked, gliding down
On those great sails; how beautiful he looked, veering away in the
sea-light
over the precipice. I tell you solemnly
That I was sorry to have disappointed him. To be eaten by that beak
and
become part of him, to share those wings and those eyes--
What a sublime end of one's body, what an enskyment; what a life
after death.

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Comments (9)

what genre? ? ? ? ? ? ode or wut?
What type of poem is dis? ? Ode, lyrical, sonnett, ballad? ?
Learned it in 3rd gr. 1965..can still quote it too. :
This poem, credited to simply burgess was quoted by Johnny Carson on the July 12,1984 episode of The Tonight Show. He looked over at band leader Doc Severenson who was dressed in purple, and said you remind me of a poem I read in third grade... he then quoted it from memory.
Years later, he wrote: O Yes, I wrote the purple cow I'm sorry now I wrote it. But I can tell you anyhow I'll kill you if you quote it.
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