Eagle Poem – Joy Harjo

To pray you open your whole self
To sky, to earth, to sun, to moon
To one whole voice that is you.
And know there is more
That you can’t see, can’t hear;
Can’t know except in moments
Steadily growing, and in languages
That aren’t always sound but other
Circles of motion.
Like eagle that Sunday morning
Over Salt River. Circled in blue sky
In wind, swept our hearts clean
With sacred wings.
We see you, see ourselves and know
That we must take the utmost care
And kindness in all things.
Breathe in, knowing we are made of
All this, and breathe, knowing
We are truly blessed because we
Were born, and die soon within a
True circle of motion,
Like eagle rounding out the morning
Inside us.
We pray that it will be done
In beauty.
In beauty.

I come back to this poem over and over, especially when there is personal or universal grief, as there too often is. I am reminded of the exquisite beauty that remains no matter what. One of the things that I love about Harjo’s poem is that the prayer she speaks of is not to any specific being, therefore it can be whatever we place our trust in, or even if we have no faith.
To pray you open your whole self  / To sky, to earth, to sun, to moon / To one whole voice that is you. You are invited to open yourself to yourself, to your own voice, your own truth. And that voice is whole in itself.
 And know there is more / That you can’t see, can’t hear; / Can’t know except in moments /
Steadily growing, and in languages / That aren’t always sound but other / Circles of motion.

I hear in this that there is so much more beyond what our small minds can comprehend through sight and sound; that sound can be ‘circles of motion’, not just the languages we think we use to communicate.

Like eagle that Sunday morning / Over Salt River. Circled in blue sky / In wind, swept our hearts clean / With sacred wings. Now eagle becomes another language that can speak to us. The phrase swept our hearts clean with sacred wings always takes my breath away, no matter how many times I speak or hear it. This too is prayer.

 We see you, see ourselves and know / That we must take the utmost care / And kindness in all things. She is telling us that eagle circling above is reminding us of ourselves, of our responsibility to act with care and kindness always.
 Breathe in, knowing we are made of / All this, and breathe, knowing / We are truly blessed because we / Were born, and die soon within a / True circle of motion, Like eagle rounding out the morning / Inside us. The cycle of life, the blessing to be born and die too soon, is like eagle, that part of us within that understands all of this.
 We pray that it will be done / In beauty. / In beauty. And this is her prayer, that I hear and make myself, that all this shall be done in beauty. We must find ways to make beauty in the ‘ruthless furnace of this world’ as Jack Gilbert says.
 May you go through your days in beauty, in beauty.
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14 thoughts on “Eagle Poem – Joy Harjo

  1. To find ourselves in that “true circle of motion”…what more could prayer be than this, to be deeply imbedded in the circling motion of beauty, finding ourselves so thoroughly in love with all things care and kindness are the only answers.

    Thank you, Jan. I love this one, too.

    Wendy

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  2. Jan, this is just so beautiful. Thank you for this poem and for your comments. I’ve seen this poem before but somehow your comments so resonate with what I’ve just recently experienced as I walked Hadrian’s Wall on my own. Its an experience I haven’t yet been able to put into words.

    thank you, Margaret 613-725-6941 h 613-795-9879 c

    “The miracle is not to walk on water. The miracle is to walk on the green earth, dwelling deeply in the present moment and feeling truly alive.”

    – Thich Nhat Hanh

    >

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  3. Jan another heart opener!!! and……let me tell you, a “just in time” gift – I am so grateful for YOU and all that is – when the horses breathe on me, well that is pretty fine too :O)

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  4. Jan, Thank you for this beautiful poem. I have been able to breathe it into my heart. I have a very dear friend who is in the final stages of her journey with Posterior Cortical Atrophy. This poem has come at the perfect time. I’ve sent it to her husband who has taken ‘…the utmost care/And kindness in all things…’
    I love the final words:
    We pray that it will be done/in beauty./in beauty.
    Thank you Jan. Love always, Lisa

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  5. Dear Jan -The love you have for this poem shimmers through your words. The power of this poem as sacred prayer comes home to me with your reflections. Thank you. xoxo ML

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