– fordi tiden kræver et MODSPIL

02. May 2007

The Eagle and the Serpent

serpent and Eagle
            In the air do I behold indeed
	An Eagle and a Serpent wreathed in fight:--
	And now, relaxing its impetuous flight,
	Before the aërial rock on which I stood,
	The Eagle, hovering, wheeled to left and right,
	And hung with lingering wings over the flood,
	   And startled with its yells the wide air's solitude.
	A shaft of light upon its wings descended,
	And every golden feather gleamed therein--
	Feather and scale inextricably blended.
	The Serpent's mailed and many-colored skin
	Shone through the plumes its coils were twined within
	By many a swollen and knotted fold, and high
	And far, the neck receding lithe and thin,
	Sustained a crested head, which warily
	   Shifted and glanced before the Eagle's steadfast eye.
	Around, around, in ceaseless circles wheeling
	With clang of wings and scream, the Eagle sailed
	Incessantly--sometimes on high concealing
	Its lessening orbs, sometimes as if it failed,
	Drooped through the air; and still it shrieked and wailed,
	And casting back its eager head, with beak
	And talon unremittingly assailed
	The wreathèd Serpent, who did ever seek
	   Upon his enemy's heart a mortal wound to wreak.
	What life, what power, was kindled and arose
	Within the sphere of that appalling fray!
	For, from the encounter of those wondrous foes,
	A vapor like the sea's suspended spray
	Hung gathered; in the void air, far away,
	Floated the shattered plumes; bright scales did leap,
	Where'er the Eagle's talons made their way,
	Like sparks into the darkness;--as they sweep,
	   Blood stains the snowy foam of the tumultuous deep.
	Swift chances in that combat--many a check,
	And many a change, a dark and wild turmoil!
	Sometimes the Snake around his enemy's neck
	Locked in stiff rings his adamantine coil,
	Until the Eagle, faint with pain and toil,
	Remitted his strong flight, and near the sea
	Languidly fluttered, hopeless so to foil
	His adversary, who then reared on high
	   His red and burning crest, radiant with victory.
	Then on the white edge of the bursting surge,
	Where they had sunk together, would the Snake
	Relax his suffocating grasp, and scourge
	The wind with his wild writhings; for, to break
	That chain of torment, the vast bird would shake
	The strength of his unconquerable wings
	As in despair, and with his sinewy neck
	Dissolve in sudden shock those linkèd rings--
	   Then soar, as swift as smoke from a volcano springs.
	Wile baffled wile, and strength encountered strength,
	Thus long, but unprevailing. The event
	Of that portentous fight appeared at length.
	Until the lamp of day was almost spent
	It had endured, when lifeless, stark and rent,
	Hung high that mighty Serpent, and at last
	Fell to the sea, while o'er the continent
	With clang of wings and scream the Eagle passed,
	   Heavily borne away on the exhausted blast.
	Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822), fra The Revolt of Islam I, v. 66-126.  - 
	billede fra Punch vol. 99, 13. september 1890.