I will explain the eagle's nature,
As I in books have read it:
How he reneweth his youth,¹
How he cometh out of old age.
When his limbs are unwieldy,
When his beak is quite awry,
When his flight is very feeble,
And his eye-sight dim,
Hear how he reneweth him.
A well he seeketh, that springeth ever,
Both by night and by day;
Over that he flieth and upwards soareth,
Until the heaven he seeth,
Through the skies, six and seven,
Until he cometh to heaven.²
And as straight as ever he may,
Into the sun he maketh his way;
The sun strengtheneth his whole flight;
Likewise it maketh his eyes be bright;³
His feathers fall off from the heat,
And straight down, into the wet,
He falleth to the well's ground,⁴
Where he becometh hale and sound.⁵
Out he cometh, wholly new,
Except his bill is still untrue;
His upper bill is somewhat wrong,
Though his limbs are strong.
He cannot get him any food
That will do him any good.
Then he goeth to a stone,
And rubbeth his bill thereon,
Whetteth till his upper beak
All its crookedness hath lost;
After, with his straightened bill,
He eatheth such food as he will.
Like as a man, so is the eagle,
If ye would but listen;
Old in those his secret sins,
Before the priest him christen.
And thus reneweth him this man,
When he is brought to kirk;
Ere he could take thought of it,
His eyes were dark with murk.
He therefore forsaketh Satanas
And each sinful deed;
He taketh him to Jesu Christ,
For He shall help his need,
Believeth on Lord Jesu Christ,
And learneth the priest's teaching;
Removeth from his eyes the mist,
As he tarrieth there beseeching.
All his hope is placed in God,
And he on His love intendeth,
That is the sun, assuredly,
Which thus his eye-sight mendeth.
Naked he falleth in baptismal font,
And cometh out quite new,
All but a little: what is that?
His mouth is still untrue.
His mouth is yet somewhat unskilled,
In paternoster and creed;
Fare he north; or fare he south,
Learn he must his need,
Beg his boon of his God,
And thus his mouth make right,
Take to him thus the soul's food,
Through our Lord's own might.