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Poems From Our Childhood - Jamaican Poems about an Eagle

by Jen

This poem was taught in primary school in the 1960s and 70s. It was found in one of the readers and the title contained Song of the…


RESPONSE: by Deon Clarke REVIEWED: by Sheree-Anita Shearer

Hi Jen,

Who doesn’t love a good poem? Reading material, especially poetry in the 60s, 70s and 80s were phenomenally inspiring. Not only that, students had the opportunity to perform these poems and even enter competitions with them. The reader you are referring to is actually “The Song of the Banana Man”. As you mentioned, this reader was widely used in schools during that era. And guess what? I do have a special treat for you! I believe the poem about the eagle you are referring to is the one by Alfred Lord Tennyson listed below. I listed some other poems about eagles that you might also enjoy:

  1. The Eagle

    by Alfred, Lord Tennyson

    He clasps the crag with crooked hands;
    Close to the sun in lonely lands,
    Ringed with the azure world, he stands.

    The wrinkled sea beneath him crawls;
    He watches from his mountain walls,
    And like a thunderbolt, he falls.

  2. Song of the Eagle

    by Frances Fuller Victor

    I'm the child of light, yet the darkest night
    No terrors hath for me,
    For the storm I ride, in a monarch's pride,
    Or skim o'er the heaving sea.
    When lowering clouds, like sable shrouds,
    Wrap the earth in deepest gloom,
    I join the surge in the funeral dirge,
    O'er the sailor's watery tomb.

    And I love to rest on the summit crest
    Of the proudest mountain's height,
    While the clouds below lie like wreaths of snow,
    Yielding homage to my might.
    In my pride I go where eternal snow
    Has crested the mountain's brow,
    And laugh at the storm, and the blackened form
    Of the threatening clouds below.

    Mid the lightning's flash, and the thunder's crash,
    I scream for my own delight,
    For I love to hear, so loud and clear,
    My voice ringing out in the night.
    Not so proud a one ever gazed on the sun
    As the eagle bird, I trow,
    Stooping to rest on the towering crest
    Of the highest mountain's brow.

    In the pride of a king, with folded wing,
    I gaze on ruined Tyre;
    By Heaven's decree it was given to me,
    And no power to give is higher.
    From land or sea God hath chosen me,
    And a favored bird am I—
    The gifted of Heaven, to whom power is given
    Over earth, and sea, and sky.

    I care not for earth, though I had my birth
    On the proudest height she owns;
    And I'd rather ride o'er old ocean's tide
    Than sit on her rocky thrones.
    But I love the sun, and could I have won
    A home in its realms of light.
    With a laugh of scorn from this earth I'd turn.
    And soar to my home in delight.

  3. The Voice of the Eagle

    by Hannah Flagg Gould

    Lady, the fairest flowers the morn disclosed
    Are glowing on thy bosom; while within,
    Thousands of clustering joys are still in bud;
    And thy fond heart has sweetly promised thee,
    Ere the bland violet shall hang its head,
    That they shall be full-blown. Thy mild blue eye,
    With warm affection beaming, wistful looks
    Far o'er the treacherous deep, as calm it lies
    Beneath the splendor of a summer sky,
    And thou dost woo each billow sparkling there
    To bring thy lover's bark safe back to shore.
    Yon shining thing, on the horizon hung,
    That trails its silver fringe along the waves,
    And in the distance seems as sea or air,
    Might either claim it, thou dost think the sail
    That is to waft him to thine arms again.
    But 'tis deceitful vapor—false as bright!
    For this bold wing has swept the snowy cloud,
    And found it melting, soon to pass away,
    As pass the hopes that mock the human heart.

    O lady! there's a secret known to me;
    To me alone—and when the fatal dart
    Shall part the down upon the eagle's breast,
    To stain its whiteness with the crimson drops,
    'T will never, never make my heart to ache
    As thine, when thou the mournful tale shall hear.
    For thou must sicken—thou must droop and pine,
    Yea, fade and perish, like the tender flower,
    That thou hast severed from its parent stem,
    Ere he, whose life was root and stem to thine,
    Shall meet thee more.

    It was a stilly hour—
    You might have heard the tiny sparrow's flight;
    For, not the coward poplar shook a leaf;
    And I had soared to breathe in upper air,
    Leaving my nest beneath the tall lone pine,
    Whose strong root fastened in the craggy bound
    That limited the ocean. Suddenly
    It seemed some mighty, sable pinions, spread
    O'er yonder azure vault, which grew so dark,
    I thought 't was night, without or moon, or star,
    And hastened home to seek my callow brood.
    Then there were rushing, deep and awful sounds;
    The pine was twisted, and its root uptorn.
    Frighted, I cowered, and pressed me 'gainst the shore,
    To make the fluttering of my bosom cease—
    There saw my tender nestlings headlong hurled
    Down, down the beetling cliff, amid the foam
    Which the mad waters dashed against the shore,
    Maddening the more that earth repelled their force.
    The wild and warring winds then onward whirled,
    The gloomy forest roared, and reeled, and fell.
    The quick, red lightning, with its fiery point,

    Engraved its path upon the yielding flint;
    And, overhead, the chariot wheels of Power
    In blackness rolled across the frowning heavens,
    With noise, which seemed as that stupendous arch
    Were rattling down, to crush the world beneath.
    Just then, a ship came struggling in the bay,
    With cables parted, bow and anchor lost—
    Her life-boat weltering in the distant surge;
    Now she was tossed high up the mountain waves,
    Then into gaping watery caverns thrown—
    And when she struck the consummating rock,
    While she was parting, I beheld the crew,
    Trembling, with faces paler than the sheets
    Hung, rent and fluttering round them; but there beamed
    From every eye a fire so strangely bright,
    It seemed its radiance might have lasted lives.
    One fell despairing from the loosening shroud,
    Another wildly clasped the shivered mast;
    And some, with hands upraised, as if they sought
    To meet an arm extended from on high,
    By which to hold them from their yawning graves,
    Were going to kneel. He who was last—
    The feeble lone one on the mighty deep,
    Clinging a moment to a floating beam,
    While his bright locks, that late so closely curled,
    All darkened, wet and heavy, fell apart,
    Leaving his smooth, white forehead, marble cold,
    Thrice, with his latest breath, called out thy name,
    As the black meeting billows closed him in.

  4. The Eagle

    by Timothy Otis Paine

    How the eagle does: —
    Gathering up his might,
    Quitting where he was,
    Soars he in the height.
    But his aerie home
    Is not always grand:
    Now on mountain dome,
    Now in lowly land.
    In a rugged wold,
    Be it but apart,
    He shall build his hold,
    Take his mighty start.
    Where he makes his bed,
    Where he piles his lair,
    Turns his noble head,
    'Tis the king that's there.
    Where he heaps his nest,
    Where he lies in state,
    Where he takes his rest,
    There the place is great.

  5. The Eagle

    by Alfred Billings Street

    We touch the green marge; hark! a shriek shrill and loud,
    A bird with huge wings, like a fragment of cloud,
    Shoots swift from the gorge, sweeps around, then on high
    Cleaves his way, till he seems a dim spot in the sky;
    Then stooping in circles, contracting his rings,
    He swoops to a pine-top and settles his wings;
    An eagle! an eagle! how kingly his form!
    He seems fit to revel in sunshine and storm;
    What terrible talons, what strength in that beak,
    His red rolling eye-balls the proud monarch speak;
    He casts looks, superb and majestical, down;
    His pine for a throne, and his crest for a crown;
    He stirs not a feather, though shoutings arise,
    But still flings beneath mute contempt at our cries;
    A branch is hurl'd upward, whirls near him, but vain,
    He looks down his eloquent, glorious disdain,
    Till he chooses to spread his broad pinions of gray
    And launch in majestic, slow motion away.

    I also recommend you read Here They Are! My Favorite Joan Andrea Hutchinson Poems.



    • “Discover Poetry”,
    • “Poems”,

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