Guest poem sent in by David Mckay
(Poem #1577) The Owl
Downhill I came, hungry, and yet not starved; Cold, yet had heat within me that was proof Against the North wind; tired, yet so that rest Had seemed the sweetest thing under a roof. Then at the inn I had food, fire, and rest, Knowing how hungry, cold, and tired was I. All of the night was quite barred out except An owl's cry, a most melancholy cry Shaken out long and clear upon the hill, No merry note, nor cause of merriment, But one telling me plain what I escaped And others could not, that night, as in I went. And salted was my food, and my repose, Salted and sobered, too, by the bird's voice Speaking for all who lay under the stars, Soldiers and poor, unable to rejoice.
Here's a holiday poem of sorts. There are a few poems by Edward Thomas on the website, but not this one. I once read "The Owl" in an anthology and then lost track of it for years, but every once in a while one of its well-turned lines would come back to haunt me: "An owl's cry, a most melancholy cry". Reading the poem again, I was especially taken with the rich, ambiguous image of the owl's cry "salting" the narrator's food and repose. Throughout, the economy of language is exceptional -- consider the phrase "soldiers and poor", which says all that needs to be said and no more. Best regards, David McKay