The afternoon would be a scar forever
On the boy’s bright mind.
He saw the swoop,
And mighty wings came open, full of shadow,
Among the sunlit hens beside the stoop.
Then out of nothing but a cloud of feathers
The thing came clear, a monstrous bird, cut sharp,
Beating its wings and dwindling in the sky shine
And leaving sounds like strings snapped on a harp.
But something else there was, and that was terror:
The bird was double, there was another one
In below the hawk and headed with him
But wingless and head bowed towards the sun.
The upper bird was fastened in the lower
By hooks that bit into its quiet back
And made the lower wings dead walls of feathers,
The double bird went on its shining track.
And sounds came down from somewhere, shrill and lonely,
Cries no earthly creature ever cried,
Falling like sad bells and dwindling, dwindling,
The bird had dwindled out before they died.
Yet always this one watching now would hear them
And see the double bird shrink to a spark
And think of cruelty hardened to a diamond
Burning the world and bringing on the dark.