There Shall the Falcons also be Gathered, Each One with her Mate
Always it’s the peregrines that nest upon cathedrals,
Like wanderers and pilgrims, or like animated gargoyles.
The buzzards and the owls are a heather flock, it seems,
And the pigeons are unwelcome when they perch upon the beams,
And the crows about the graveyard are Satanic in their dress –
But the peregrines are cherished by the bishop and the press.
Strange, but back in the Middle Ages,
They were never seen about the towers –
Till they left the cliffs for the factories
And the belfries, once they ceased to toll the hours.
Yet falcons are not very turn-the-other-cheek,
They’re far more Old Testament when preying on the weak,
They’re thoroughly un-kosher, yet fitting for an earl,
And un-patriarchal, where the stronger is the girl.
They’re sharp and unrepentant, defiantly un-bowed,
As they kill the dove of peace to the cheering of the crowd.
Perhaps they’re waiting for the day when the Lord
Says “Fowls in the midst of Heaven, arise !
Come gather yourselves for my supper on the flesh
Of the sinners in my temple, and peck out their eyes !”
According to this page on the Natural History Museum website, the first recorded instance of a peregrine falcon ‘using a building (for its nest ?) was at Salisbury Cathedral in 1864.
The title comes from the KJV, except it says ‘vultures’ instead. Many other translations say ‘falcons’, but there’s quite a spread – ‘buzzards’ in the New Living, ‘hawks’ in the NASB, ‘kites’ in the Douay-Rheims…and bizarrely, the Brenton Septuagint has ‘deer’ !