I had walked since dawn and lay down to rest on a bare
Above the ocean. I saw through half-shut eyelids a vulture wheeling
high up in heaven,
And presently it passed again, but lower and nearer, its orbit
narrowing, I understood then
That I was under inspection. I lay death-still and heard the
flight feathers
Whistle above me and make their circle and come nearer.
I could see the naked red head between the great wings
Bear downward staring. I said, “My dear bird, we are wasting
time here.
These old bones will still work; they are not for you.” But how
beautiful he looked, gliding down
On those great sails; how beautiful he looked, veering away in the
sea-light over the precipice. I tell you solemnly
That I was sorry to have disappointed him. To be eaten by that
beak and become part of him, to share those wing and
those eyes—
What a sublime end of one’s body, what an enskyment;
What a life after death.

— Robinson Jeffers

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