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Short poem

Duncan Campbell Scott (1862-1947)

To a Canadian Aviator Who Died for his Country in France

              1Tossed like a falcon from the hunter's wrist,
              2A sweeping plunge, a sudden shattering noise,
              3And thou hast dared, with a long spiral twist,
              4The elastic stairway to the rising sun.
              5Peril below thee and above, peril
              6Within thy car; but peril cannot daunt
              7Thy peerless heart: gathering wing and poise,
              8Thy plane transfigured, and thy motor-chant
              9Subduéd to a whisper -- then a silence, --
            10And thou art but a disembodied venture
            11In the void.

            12But Death, who has learned to fly,
            13Still matchless when his work is to be done,
            14Met thee between the armies and the sun;
            15Thy speck of shadow faltered in the sky;
            16Then thy dead engine and thy broken wings
            17Drooped through the arc and passed in fire,
            18A wreath of smoke -- a breathless exhalation.
            19But ere that came a vision sealed thine eyes,
            20Lulling thy senses with oblivion;
            21And from its sliding station in the skies
            22Thy dauntless soul upward in circles soared
            23To the sublime and purest radiance whence it sprang.

            24In all their eyries, eagles shall mourn thy fate,
            25And leaving on the lonely crags and scaurs
            26Their unprotected young, shall congregate
            27High in the tenuous heaven and anger the sun
            28With screams, and with a wild audacity
            29Dare all the battle danger of thy flight;
            30Till weary with combat one shall desert the light,
            31Fall like a bolt of thunder and check his fall
            32On the high ledge, smoky with mist and cloud,
            33Where his neglected eaglets shriek aloud,
            34And drawing the film across his sovereign sight
            35Shall dream of thy swift soul immortal
            36Mounting in circles, faithful beyond death.

Online text copyright © 2003, Ian Lancashire for the Department of English, University of Toronto.
Published by the Web Development Group, Information Technology Services, University of Toronto Libraries.

Original text: The Poems of Duncan Campbell Scott (Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 1926): 306-07. PS 8487 C6 A17 1926 Robarts Library.
First publication date: 1921
Publication date note: Beauty and Life (1921).
RPO poem editor: Ian Lancashire
RP edition: RPO 1998.
Recent editing: 2:2002/4/10

Rhyme: irregularly rhyming

Other poems by Duncan Campbell Scott