"My Soul Still Flies Above Me For The Quarry It Shall Find!"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: The poet, speaking metaphorically, pictures his soul as a highflying falcon ready to swoop upon the "bird of . . . [his] desire," the "white heron . . . with silver on its wings," which the poet, that part of him which is physical, has alarmed from its hiding in the marshes. The poem, then, is one of aspiration, wherein the power and promise of the soul determine a wonderful and expectant hunt that seeks in the marshes of life the glorious and treasured prize. But this hunt carries with it failure and disappointment as well as hope, and finally is sustained in the face of inevitable failure only by the persistence of the hunter. The poem begins at the anticipatory moment of the hunt: "I flung my soul to the air like a falcon flying." The hunter moves through the "reedy fens" thrashing the cover until the bird he seeks rises to the stars, "flashing silver fire." When the falcon kills it, suddenly the bird becomes only "a dark and heavy weight/ Despoiled of silver plumage. . .,–/ All of the wonder/ Gone that ever filled/ Its guise with glory." But the hunter flings his "soul on high with new endeavor," and pledges to find the heron of his desire:

The pledge is still the same–for all disastrous pledges,
All hope resigned!
My soul still flies above me for the quarry it shall find!