20 poets, 10 poems, 25 years of National Poetry Month

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.

tan shapedark blue shape
Edward Thomas
Author
Edward Thomas
Edward Thomas (1878–1917) was born in London and began his career as a literary critic and essayist. In 1913, he moved with his wife and children to the Hampshire countryside; his writing was inspired by the landscape and encouraged by his friendship with the American poet Robert Frost, who lived in a nearby cottage. Thomas wrote much of his poetry while serving as a soldier during World War I, and his work shifts between meditative recollections of his beloved countryside and his experiences in battle. He was killed in action in France at age 39.
Ed Madden
Selected By
Ed Madden
Ed Madden is professor of English and director of the women’s and gender studies program at the University of South Carolina, where he teaches Irish literature and creative writing. His most recent poetry collections include Ark (Sibling Rivalry Press, 2016), Nest (Salmon Poetry, 2014), and Prodigal: Variations (Lethe Press, 2011). In 2019, Madden was named an Academy of American Poets Laureate Fellow, and he currently serves as the poet laureate of Columbia, South Carolina.
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