Verse > Anthologies > The World’s Best Poetry > Vol. V. Nature
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Bliss Carman, et al., eds.  The World’s Best Poetry.
Volume V. Nature.  1904.
 
VI. Animate Nature
The Owl
Bryan Waller Procter (Barry Cornwall) (1787–1874)
 
IN the hollow tree, in the old gray tower,
  The spectral owl doth dwell;
Dull, hated, despised, in the sunshine hour,
  But at dusk he ’s abroad and well!
Not a bird of the forest e’er mates with him;        5
  All mock him outright by day;
But at night, when the woods grow still and dim,
  The boldest will shrink away!
    O, when the night falls, and roosts the fowl,
    Then, then, is the reign of the hornèd owl!        10
 
And the owl hath a bride, who is fond and bold,
  And loveth the wood’s deep gloom;
And, with eyes like the shine of the moonstone cold,
  She awaiteth her ghastly groom;
Not a feather she moves, not a carol she sings,        15
  As she waits in her tree so still;
But when her heart heareth his flapping wings,
  She hoots out her welcome shrill!
    O, when the moon shines, and dogs do howl,
    Then, then, is the joy of the hornèd owl!        20
 
Mourn not for the owl, nor his gloomy plight!
  The owl hath his share of good:
If a prisoner he be in the broad daylight,
  He is lord in the dark greenwood!
Nor lonely the bird, nor his ghastly mate,        25
  They are each unto each a pride;
Thrice fonder, perhaps, since a strange, dark fate
  Hath rent them from all beside!
    So, when the night falls, and dogs do howl,
    Sing, ho! for the reign of the hornèd owl!        30
        We know not alway
        Who are kings by day,
    But the king of the night is the bold brown owl!
 
 
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