We went up to see our friends Larry and Ursula up in Fair Oaks on Saturday night and participate in their quarterly poem-reading evening. We read poems out of books, not our own poems. I brought nothing to read, but Larry has a whole shelf of poetry books, including several anthologies. I happened across a short poem in a collection of “modern” poets, a poem called “The Owl,” by an Englishman named Edward Thomas, and read it aloud. Here it is:
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.
And for good measure, here’s Dylan Thomas reading “The Owl.”