By Robert Francis
The American eagle is not aware he is
the American eagle. He is never tempted
to look modest.
When orators advertise the American eagle’s
virtues, the American eagle is not listening.
This is his virtue.
He is somewhere else, he is mountains away
but even if he were near he would never
make an audience.
The American eagle never says he will serve
if drafted, will dutifully serve etc. He is
not at our service.
If we have honored him we have honored one
who unequivocally honors himself by
He does not know the meaning of magnificent.
Perhaps we do not altogether either
who cannot touch him.
Robert Francis, “Eagle Plain” from Collected Poems, 1936-1976. Copyright © 1993 by Robert Francis. Reprinted by permission of University of Massachusetts Press.
Source: Collected Poems 1936-1976 (University of Massachusetts Press, 1993)
More By This Poet
Part for the Whole
When others run to windows or out of doors
To catch the sunset whole, he is content
With any segment anywhere he sits.
From segment, fragment, he can reconstruct
The whole, prefers to reconstruct the whole,
As if to say, I see more seeing less.
More Poems about Arts & Sciences
Sestina in Prose
It was like climbing a mountain to those of us who’d climbed one. To the others, it was like, I suppose, something else. In other words, we let everybody find her own figure of speech.
Not that it—speech—lay thick on the...
The Heart Shows No Signs
The heart, the surgeon says, does not reveal
the small rifts, the hairline cracks which
split the hairline cracks they conceal cops
and robbers in a stretch of skin flaunting
star-scars with show of blood bone
the ledges of what it holds tight in checkmate
More Poems about Mythology & Folklore
We gathered in a field southwest of town,
several hundred hauling coolers
and folding chairs along a gravel road
dry in August, two ruts of soft dust
that soaked into our clothes
and rose in plumes behind us.
By noon we could discern their massive coils
This disease has come back
With frills and furbelows.
You must give your whole life to poetry
Only a few survive if that—
Poems I mean, paper crumpled
Shades of another water—
Far springs are what you long for,
Listening for the slow drip of chemicals
More Poems about Relationships
When I say But mother, Black or not Black,
Of course you are polyethnic, your look does not change
Though it does harden, a drying clay bust
Abandoned or deliberately incomplete,
All the features carved in
Except the eyes. What I’m trying—
I mean—You are an...
“Un Tintero,” Inkwell
Anger is the other person inside
mi garganta, my throat.