The poem “Vulture” by Robinson Jeffers expresses a religious perspective on death and afterlife that is pervasive in contemporary green spirituality. In it, Jeffers reflects on an occasion when, while lying on his back in adesert canyon in the Southwestern United States, he was once mistaken for carrion by a vulture.
I had walked since dawn and lay down to rest on abare hillsideAbove the ocean. I saw through half-shut eyelids avulture wheeling high up in heaven,And presently it passed again, but lower and nearer,its orbit narrowing,I understood thenThat I was under inspection. I lay death-still andheard the flight feathersWhistle above me and make their circle and comenearer…. . . how beautiful he looked, gliding downOn those great sails; how beautiful he looked,veering away in the sea-lightover the precipice. I tell you solemnlyThat I was sorry to have disappointed him. To beeaten by that beak andbecome part of him, to share those wings andthose eyes –What a sublime end of one’s body, what an ensky-ment; what a life after death.
Thank you for sharing this. Despite Jeffers’ fame, I never got around to checking out his work. Clearing I’ve been missing out. 🙂