The Little Review (littlereview) wrote,
The Little Review

Poem for Tuesday

The Owl
By Edward Thomas

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.


After I posted yesterday's Thomas poem, I realized that I had saved a much older Poet's Choice on Thomas from when Edward Hirsch wrote the column five years ago. "Edward Thomas wrote 142 poems between December 1914 and April 1917, when he died in Flanders...his poetry was triggered by his genuine love of the English countryside, his feeling for the unfathomable mysteries of nature,'" explained Hirsch. "Thomas wrote 'The Owl' in February 1915, three months before enlisting. Ever since college, I have loved the dramatic clarity, the rhythmic poise and the spiritual balance...I'm moved by the scrupulous emotional precision of this poem about coming to a place of rest after a long winter tramp in the country. The speaker recognizes that he entered the inn hungry but not starved, cold but not frozen, tired but not so exhausted that rest was impossible. The owl's melancholy cry splits the poem in half. The first part is given over to a feeling of gratitude, the second to the speaker's recognition of his own privilege, of what he managed to escape but others could not. I especially like how Thomas savors the word 'salted,' which means 'flavored' but also carries connotations of bitterness and tears, of open wounds."

The delightful dementordelta came over and we went out to lunch and then, deciding it was too gorgeous a day to stay indoors watching porn Alan Rickman movies, we went to Brookside Gardens in Wheaton Regional Park. The greenhouse was unfortunately closed, as the park was in the process of moving out its poinsettias and putting in whatever will bloom between now and Candlemas, so we got only a quick peek into the conservatory, but we walked around the trails around the nature center and pond and then all around the gardens to the gazebo and sniper memorial. Plus we had Thai food, took photos of her Astronaut Barbie for my Barbie Tarot and tried to find the good scenes of Dangerous Lady before concluding that we should probably watch the whole miniseries to get the whole gay Jason Isaacs story.

There was a minimal layer of ice cracking over the pond on this nearly 70-degree day at Brookside Gardens.

Penguins and an igloo left over from the winter light show.

Polar bears amidst pretend trees...

...and a dragonfly amidst real ones.

Outside the nature center, bees...

...and a chipmunk near the bird feeders.

A Sycamore tree from the Rock Creek stream valley believed to have been struck by lightning nearly 40 years ago and tunneled hollow by organisms after living for about 100 years.

Unfortunately older son called while she was still here from the bus to tell me his stomach was upset and he needed to be picked up from the earlier bus stop. He came home feeling terrible and spent most of the afternoon either in the bathroom or lying on the couch miserably. apaulled had e-mailed asking me to please record Best in Show and For Your Consideration since it was the last day they would be on HBO On Demand, but I think the kids saw more of them than I did (have never seen the latter; the former makes me howl, particularly since John Michael Higgins was an acting teacher in my youth at Round House Theatre and I get a big kick out of seeing him as a flamingly gay dog-lover).

Now both kids are finally asleep and I am pretending to care about the LSU/OSU game...pretending because I'm rooting for OSU and right now it doesn't look like they're going to win, and they don't deserve to with all these penalties. It does not surprise me at all to learn that naps may help boost long-term memories, nor that more sun is healthy, despite skin cancer risk. And with the Golden Globes festivities pared down, I now have no reason not to watch Jane Austen on PBS next Sunday. And on Tuesday 3:10 To Yuma is finally out on DVD!

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