“Skirting the river road, (my forenoon walk, my rest) / Skyward in air a sudden muffled sound, the dalliance of the eagles/ The rushing amorous contact high in space together... ” so begins Walt Whitman's descriptive divulgings of The Dalliance of Eagles, a poem which relates and indulges on the details of the aptly mentioned title. It begins with the narrator of the poem taking an afternoon walk and coming upon two eagles engaging in what appears to be frivolous play or flirtation, and proceeds to elucidate from there.
The extent of Whitman's short poem relates vivid details, and snatches, turn of events in the specific, providing its readers an intimate and more than general view of the instance of two eagles engaging in play, or the beginning of intercourse. Whitman writes, “The clinching interlocking claws, a living fiercing, gyrating wheel, / Four beating wings, two beaks, a swirling mass tight grappling, / In tumbling turning clustering loops, straight downward falling.”
While the title more or less summarizes and dictates what the poem is about, its content is defined by descriptive details which doesn't appear to make sense by itself, but together, effectively communicates the spirit of the poem. It also affords its readers a view of what others would conveniently categorize as 'animal poetry,' of a seemingly unimportant and overlooked occurrence in nature which is translated in its incensed spirit and sublimity through words, and through Whitman's poetry.
It ultimately differs from most poems not only in its ability to portray incensed animals at 'play' without sounding crude or malicious, but also because of its ability to effectively communicate an idea and sentiment by simply anchoring on verbs and adjectives; on the act being done, as opposed to who is doing it.