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Poem by Bernard Barton

To the Owl

BIRD of the solemn midnight hour!
  Thy Poets emblem be;
If arms might be the Muses dower,
  His crest were found in thee:
Though flippant wits thy dulness blame,
And Superstition fondly frame
  Fresh omens from thy song;
With me thou art a favourite bird,
Of habits, hours, and haunts, preferrd
  To days more noisy throng.

Are not thy habits grave and sage,
  Thyself beseeming well,
Like hermits in his hermitage,
  Or nuns in convent cell?
Secluded as an anchorite,
Thou spendst the hours of garish light
  In silence, and alone:
Twere well if nuns and hermits spent
Their days in dreams as innocent,
  As thine, my bird! have flown.

Are not the hours to thee most dear,
  Those which my bosom thrill?
Eveningwhose charms my spirit cheer,
  And Night, more glorious still?
I love to see thee slowly glide
Along the dark woods leafy side,
  On undulating wing,
So noiseless in thy dream-like flight,
Thou seemst more like a phantom-sprite
  Than like a living thing.

I love to hear thy hooting cry,
  At midnights solemn hour,
On gusty breezes sweeping by,
  And feel its utmost power:
From Natures depths it seems to come,
When other oracles are dumb;
  And eloquent its sound,
Asserting Nights majestic sway,
And bearing Fancy far away
  To solitudes profound;

To wild, secluded haunts of thine,
  Which hoary eld reveres;
To ivied turret, mouldring shrine,
  Gray with the lapse of years;
To hollow trees by lightning scathd;
To cavernd rocks, whose roots are bathd
  By some sequesterd stream;
To tangled wood, and briery brake,
Where only Echo seems awake
  To answer to thy scream.

While habits, hours, and haunts, so lone
  And lofty, blend with thee,
Well mayst thou, bird of night! be prone
  To touch thoughts nobler key;
To waken feelings undefind,
And bring home to the Poets mind,
  Who frames his vigil-lay,
Visions of higher musings born,
And fancies brighter than adorn
  His own ephemral day.

Bernard Barton

Bernard Barton's other poems:
  1. Leiston Abbey
  2. Verses on the Gateway Still Standing at Nettlestead, Suffolk
  3. Benhall
  4. Meditations
  5. Which Things are a Shadow

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