Saturday, July 25, 2009

Taunting Me

Every weekend now, it happens. I'll be sitting down to breakfast, and then I hear the scream of the hawk. I want to see this bird and I want to photograph this bird. And so, camera in hand, I step outside and look to the sky. But the hawk sees me, I'm quite certain, and doesn't care to have its picture taken. So, the hawk adjusts its flight to put a tree between me and its gliding loops.

It is beautiful to watch, a hawk soaring on the morning thermals that rise up from this ridge.

Until I can get a better photo, this one will have to do.

The Hawk
William Butler Yeats

‘Call down the hawk from the air;
Let him be hooded or caged
Till the yellow eye has grown mild,
For larder and spit are bare,
The old cook enraged,
The scullion gone wild.’

‘I will not be clapped in a hood,
Nor a cage, nor alight upon wrist,
Now I have learnt to be proud
Hovering over the wood
In the broken mist
Or tumbling cloud.’

‘What tumbling cloud did you cleave,
Yellow-eyed hawk of the mind,
Last evening? that I, who had sat
Dumbfounded before a knave,
Should give to my friend
A pretence of wit.’

Tomorrow morning, when I hear the scream of the hawk, I'll leave the camera on the shelf. Instead, I'll scream back at the hawk the words of this poem. Perhaps a dose of Yeats will bring that hawk around.


Betty Cloer Wallace said...

Somewhere, years ago, I read about the "screeing" of a hawk, and I think of that word every time I hear the sound. "Screeing" is not quite a "scream" or a "screech" but something in between, and I think it fits the sound perfectly.

GULAHIYI said...


I like that. I was struggling to describe the call of the hawk last night, and that word does get a lot closer to it.

As soon as I hear that hawk, I'm ready to scree some Yeats right back at him.

Gary Carden said...


In case you don't know, Harry Crews loves hawks, too. One of his books is entitled, "The Hawk is Dying," and he has a half-dozen essays about their profound indifference to humans - even those who try to aid them when they are injured. Another poet, Robinson Jeffers, loved them for the same reason and wrote about a world in which the hawk would one day look down and find us gone and would be as indifferent as he was when we seemed to be everywhere.