Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE FALCON, by RICHARD LOVELACE



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THE FALCON, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Fair princess of the spacious air
Last Line: Only to sing thy elegy.
Subject(s): Falcons


Fair princess of the spacious air,
That hast vouchsafed acquaintance here
With us are quartered below stairs,
That can reach heaven with nought but prayers,
Who, when our activ'st wings we try,
Advance a foot into the sky;
Bright heir to th' bird imperial,
From whose avenging pennons fall
Thunder and lightning twisted spun;
Brave cousin-german to the sun,
That dist forsake thy throne and sphere,
To be an humble prisoner here,
And, for a perch of her soft hand,
Resign the royal wood's command:
How often wouldst thou shoot heaven's arc,
Then mount thyself into a lark;
And after our short faint eyes call,
When now a fly, now nought at all;
Then stoop so swift unto our sense,
As thou wert sent intelligence!
Free beauteous slave, thy happy feet
In silver fetters varvels meet,
And trample on that noble wrist
The gods have kneeled in vain t' have kissed.
But gaze not, bold deceived spy,
Too much o' th' lustre of her eye;
The Sun thou dost outstare, alas!
Winks at the glory of her face.
Be safe then in thy velvet helm:
Her looks are calms that do o'erwhelm;
Than the Arabian bird more blest,
Chafe in the spic'ry of her breast,
And lose you in her breath, a wind
Sours the delicious gales of Ind.
But now a quill from thine own wing
I pluck, thy lofty fate to sing;
Whilst we behold the various fight,
With mingled pleasure and affright,
The humbler hinds do fall to prayer,
As when an army 's seen 'i th' air,
And the prophetic spaniels run
And howl thy epicedium.
The heron mounted doth appear
On his own Peg'sus a lancier,
And seems on earth, when he doth hut,
A proper halberdier on foot;
Secure i' th' moor, about to sup,
The dogs have beat his quarters up.
And now he takes the open air,
Draws up his wings with tactic care,
Whilst th' expert falcon swift doth climb
In subtle mazes serpentine;
And to advantage closely twined
She gets the upper sky and wind,
Where she dissembles to invade
And lies a pol'tic ambuscade.
The hedged-in heron, whom the foe
Awaits above and dogs below,
In his fortification lies
And makes him ready for surprise,
When roused with a shrill alarm
Was shouted from beneath, they arm.
The falcon charges at first view
With her brigade of talons, through
Whose shoots the wary heron beat
With a well counterwheeled retreat.
But the bold general, never lost,
Hath won again her airy post,
Who, wild in this affront, now fries,
Then gives a volley of her eyes.
The desperate heron now contracts
In one design all former facts;
Noble he is resolved to fall,
His and his en'my's funeral,
And, to be rid of her, to die
A public martyr of the sky.
When now he turns his last to wreak
The palisadoes of his beak,
The raging foe impatient,
Racked with revenge, and fury rent,
Swift as the thunderbolt he strikes
Too sure upon the stand of pikes;
There she his naked breast doth hit,
And on the case of rapiers's split.
But even in her expiring pangs
The heron's pounced within her fangs,
And so above she stoops to rise
A trophy and a sacrifice;
Whilst her own bells in the sad fall
Ring out the double funeral.
Ah victory unhapp'ly won!
Weeping and red is set the sun,
Whilst the whole field floats in one tear,
And all the air doth mourning wear;
Close-hooded all thy kindred come
To pay their vows upon thy tomb;
The hobby and the musket, too,
Do march to take their last adieu.
The lanner and the lanneret
Thy colours bear as banneret;
The goshawk and her tercel, roused,
With tears attend thee as new boused;
All these are in their dark array
Led by the various herald-jay.
But thy eternal name shall live
Whilst quills from ashes fame reprieve,
Whilst open stands renown's wide door,
And wings are left on which to soar:
Doctor Robin, the prelate Pie,
And the poetic Swan shall die,
Only to sing thy elegy.







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