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~ elderflower ~

One Late Bloomer Point of View - Un Bricolage

Sunday, November 07, 2004

Meditation - Now, and Again - 11/06/04 

The Bestiary

The Eagle's Nature

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.

Signification *

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.

- Medieval English Verse and Prose, Early Thirteenth Century, Roger Sherman Loomis and Rudolph Willard; Appleton-Century-Crofts, Inc, 1948

¹ Psalm 103.5 ... Compare Milton's passage in the Areopagitica on the eagle's newing (often misprinted "mewing") her mighty youth.
² A reference to the Ptolemaic astronomy, which taught that the earth is at the centre of nine spheres, eight of them occupied by the planets and the stars. The author has erred in placing the sun in the eighth, instead of the fourth, sphere.
³ Cf. 3 Henry VI, II, i: "Nay, if thou be that princely eagle's bird, Show thy descent by gazing 'gainst the sun."
Cf. 1 Henry IV, IV, i: "Bated like eagles having lately bathed."
* Cf. The Protestant Reformation

What sort of future would you have for you and yours?

The fire shall ever be burning upon the altar;
it shall never go out. - Leviticus 6.13

"But you're gonna have to serve somebody, yes indeed
You're gonna have to serve somebody,
Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord
But you're gonna have to serve somebody." - Bob Dylan

posted by jp  # 01:00
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