Sleep softly … eagle forgotten … under the stone.
Time has its way with you there, and the clay has its own.

“We have buried him now,” thought your foes, and in secret rejoiced.
They made a brave show of their mourning, their hatred unvoiced.
They had snarled at you, barked at you, foamed at you, day after day.
Now you were ended. They praised you … and laid you away.

The others, that mourned you in silence and terror and truth,
The window bereft of her crust, and the boy without youth,
The mocked and the scorned and the sounded, the lame and the poor,
That should have remembered forever, … Remember no more.

Where are those lovers of yours, on what name do they call,
The lost, that in armies wept over your funeral pall?
They call on the names of a hundred high-valiant ones,
A hundred white eagles have risen, the sons of your sons,
The zeal in their wings is a zeal that your dreaming began.
The valor that wore out your soul in the service of man.

Sleep softly … eagle forgotten… under the stone.
Time has its way with you there, and the clay has its own.
Sleep on, O brave-hearted, O wise man that kindled the flame —
To live in mankind is far more than to live in a name,
To live in mankind, far, far more than … to live in a name

Analysis, meaning and summary of Vachel Lindsay's poem The Eagle That is Forgotten

5 Comments

  1. Jean Young says:

    I was raised in the state of Illinois. The eagle mentioned in the poem was John P. Altgeld, a governor of Illinois. In the early days of the labor movements, there was a riot in Chicago at a place called the Haymarket. Police were sent in and many were injured or killed. Altgeld pardoned the workers who rioted there because he felt that theirs was a just cause. For this action he was vilified by those in power; nevertheless, Lindsay was right. “To live in mankind is far more than to live in a name.”

  2. Simon says:

    Mates, this is the best, most touching poem I have ever read in my life!

  3. David says:

    Fellas,
    Lindsay’s writing of Altgeld; this is a political statement; it’s not about eagles at all.

  4. rehana says:

    if the are acceped, the will e added,together we can build a wealth of information, but it will take some discipline and determination.

  5. Keiko Kitayama says:

    I just love this poem! It is just so touching to read about the eagle. Plus they are getting extinct too. This poem really touched my heart and I recommend it to all animal lovers out there that want to preserve wildlife.

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