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Art done by Kazuya Akimoto

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.


Explication


"The Owl" is a poem about the pain of a soldier, who has no one to 'rejoice' with after escaping the night, the cold. While the narrator seems to find the comfort of indoors, he still cannot escape reality. Other soldiers do not have the luxury of the warmth, they could not get away. At first, the narrator is grateful for finding the inn, but because of the owl's cry, he is reminded of true nature, of war. There is little reason to be happy unless you choose to ignore reality and not be 'sober'.

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References