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          George Sterling (1869-1926)

                 THE BLACK VULTURE

    Aloof within the day's enormous dome,
        He holds unshared the silence of the sky.
        Far down his bleak, relentless eyes descry
    The eagle's empire and the falcon's home—
    Far down, the galleons of sunset roam;
        His hazards on the sea of morning lie;
        Serene, he hears the broken tempest sigh
    Where cold sierras gleam like scattered foam.

    And least of all he holds the human swarm—
        Unwitting now that envious men prepare
            To make their dream and its fulfilment one,
    When, poised above the caldrons of the storm,
        Their hearts, contemptuous of death, shall dare
            His roads between the thunder and the sun.


The Black Vulture appeared in Sterling's 1911 collection The House of Orchids. It can be found in:
  • Sterling, George. Selected Poems. New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1923. (as republished by St. Clair Shores, MI: Scholarly Press, 1970.)
  • Carr, Samuel, ed. The Poetry of Birds. London: B.T. Batsford Ltd., 1976.