Do not let me be a bird too long,
it hurts too much to return.
Such spirit alchemy is more than magic
and causes pain beyond the ken of men.
But to soar into the heights of light,
to swoop effortlessly and true,
to leave behind the cares of earthly bounds
and with thumping heart know true joy…
this is too much for any soul.
Thank God for the mercy of the mud
which calls me down and mires me
to the ground; I fear I’d harm myself
to stay aloft, if ever I stayed too long.

After I wrote this poem, I got to thinking that I had, long (long) ago, written another poem about being transformed into a bird. Not in the sense of a spiritual metaphor, as in Soaring, but as in a real transformation where the temptation was not to turn back. I was probably reading a lot of science fiction or fantasy at the time, something I no longer do.

Anyway, I was able to search through my old notebooks and find it and clean it up a little.

To the sky

Do not of me
let me a hawk to make.
Talon and beak, to rend fresh meat
and taste the sweetness therein;
lost, yes, but arrogant and replete,
to the sky screaming, might’s right!

Thank you for reading Soaring and To the sky. I sincerely hope you have enjoyed them and I humbly appreciate your visiting the Book of Pain. As always, I look forward to your comments.


© 2013 by John Etheridge; all rights reserved. These poems and accompanying notes are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License. This applies to all original work found on this site, unless noted otherwise. The attribution claimed under the license is: © 2013 by John Etheridge,


Filed under Poetry

9 responses to “Soaring

  1. John, I’m repeating what I said again the first time you posted this. This is the most beautiful thing you have written combining both your spirituality and worldly existence. Excellent. >KB

  2. Tiffany Coffman

    Beautifully written, John.

    • Tiffany, thank you so much. I am so glad that we have started to follow each other’s blog…although I fear that you are almost as prolific as KB and that both of you leave me behind in the dust!

    • Julia, dear, always a particularly warm moment to get a compliment from a poet of your fine sensibilities. I must be doing something right, I think! Thank you so much…