The Owl

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
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
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
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!

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
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
We know not alway 
Who are kings by day, 
But the king of the night is the bold brown owl!

By Bryan Waller Procter

Artist Cheryl Baker.

Text & image source: Snowwolfs Woodland Nook


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