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Tuesday, March 18, 2008

The Eagle That Is Forgotten

The Eagle That Is Forgotten

Sleep softly … eagle forgotten … under the stone.
Time has its way with you there, and the clay has its own.
“We have buried him now,” thought your foes, and in secret rejoiced.
They made a brave show of their mourning, their hatred unvoiced.
They had snarled at you, barked at you, foamed at you, day after day.

Now you were ended. They praised you … and laid you away.
The others, that mourned you in silence and terror and truth,
The widow bereft of her crust, and the boy without youth,
The mocked and the scorned and the wounded, the lame and the poor,
That should have remembered forever … remember no more.

Where are those lovers of yours, on what name do they call,
The lost, that in armies wept over your funeral pall?
They call on the names of a hundred high-valiant ones,
A hundred white eagles have risen, the sons of your sons.
The zeal in their wings is a zeal that your dreaming began,

The valor that wore out your soul in the service of man.
Sleep softly … eagle forgotten … under the stone.
Time has its way with you there, and the clay has its own.
Sleep on, O brave-hearted, O wise man that kindled the flame —
To live in mankind is far more than to live in a name,

To live in mankind, far, far more than to live in a name! —

By Vachel Lindsay
(of John Peter Altgeld, 20th governor of Illinois)

Thanks, Dan, for jarring this memory.

Posted by Marie at March 18, 2008 7:56 PM

Comments

that is one of those beautiful poems that i have read.

Posted by: allie at March 19, 2008 9:30 AM

Lovely, Marie.

Posted by: Rob Author Profile Page at March 20, 2008 6:33 AM

Beautiful poem. You prompted me to blog further on this topic: Next time you get up to the North Side, check out the wonderful tribute to Altgeld and Lindsay at the corner of Sheffield, Wrightwood and Lincoln (yes, the same Sheffield that's behind the right-field wall at Wrigley Field).

Posted by: Dan at March 24, 2008 11:13 AM