Towards the sun, towards the south-west
A scorched breast.
A scorched breast, breasting the sun like an answer,
Like a retort.
An eagle at the top of a low cedar-bush
On the sage-ash desert
Reflecting the scorch of the sun from his breast ;
Eagle, with the sickle dripping darkly above.
Erect, scorched-pallid out of the hair of the cedar,
Erect, with the god-thrust entering him from below,
Eagle gloved in feathers
In scorched white feathers
In burnt dark feathers
In feathers still fire-rusted ;
Sickle-overswept, sickle dripping over and above.
Staring two ways at once, to right and left ;
Sickle-maskedWith iron between your two eyes ;
To the feet ;
Erect one ;
The god-thrust entering you steadily from below.
You never look at the sun with your two eyes.
Only the inner eye of your scorched broad breast
Looks straight at the sun.
You are dark
Except scorch-pale-breasted ;
And dark cleaves down and weapon-hard downward curving
At your scorched breast,
Like a sword of Damocles,
You’ve dipped it in blood so many times
That dark face-weapon, to temper it well,
Why do you front the sun so obstinately,
American eagle ?
As if you owed him an old, old grudge, great sun : or an old, old allegiance.
When you pick the red smoky heart from a rabbit or a light-blooded bird
Do you lift it to the sun, as the Aztec priests used to lift red hearts of men ?
Does the sun need steam of blood do you think
In America, still,
Old eagle ?
Does the sun in New Mexico sail like a fiery bird of prey in the sky
Does he shriek for blood ?
Does he fan great wings above the prairie, like a hovering, blood-thirsty bird ?
And are you his priest, big eagle
Whom the Indians aspire to ?
Is there a bond of bloodshed between you ?
Is your continent cold from the ice-age still, that the sun is so angry ?
Is the blood of your continent somewhat reptilian still,
That the sun should be greedy for it ?
I don’t yield to you, big, jowl-faced eagle
Nor you nor your blood-thirsty sun
That sucks up blood
Leaving a nervous people.
Fly off, big bird with a big black back.
Fly slowly away, with a rust of fire in your tail,
Dark as you are on your dark side, eagle of heaven.
Even the sun in heaven can be curbed and chastened at last
By the life in the hearts of men.
And you, great bird, sun-starer, heavy black beak
Can be put out of office as sacrifice bringer.