Hawk in flight (Walden 195)

It was not lonely, but made all the earth lonely beneath it.

Nighthawk. Wikimedia Commons

Nighthawk. Wikimedia Commons

I observed a very slight and graceful hawk, like a nighthawk,
alternately soaring like a ripple and
a rod or two
over and over,
showing the under side of its wings,
which gleamed like a satin ribbon in the sun,
or like the pearly inside of a shell…

It was the most ethereal flight I had ever witnessed.
It did not simply flutter like a butterfly,
nor soar like the larger hawks,
but it sported with proud reliance in the fields of air;
mounting again and again with its strange chuckle,
it repeated its free and beautiful fall,
turning over and over like a kite,
and then recovering from its lofty tumbling,
as if it had never set its foot on terra firma.

It appeared to have no companion in the universe
— sporting there alone —
and to need none but the morning
and the ether with which it played.

It was not lonely,
but made all the earth lonely beneath it.

Where was the parent which hatched it,
its kindred, and its father in the heavens?
The tenant of the air,
it seemed related to the earth but by an
egg hatched some time in the crevice of a crag;
— or was its native nest made in the angle of a cloud,
woven of the rainbow’s trimmings and the sunset sky,
and lined with some soft midsummer haze
caught up from earth?

Its eyry now some cliffy cloud.

— Henry David Thoreau, from “Spring,” Walden
(About  “A Year in Walden”)


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