A Barred Owl by Richard Wilbur

Came home after a ridiculously long Monday to microwave my dinner and listen to my youngest son read “Who cooks for you?”

This Richard Wilbur poem is good for the soul too.

*Be sure to click on the link in his screen name to hear Micah read the poem!

The Monkey Prodigy

Please take a moment to relax, close your eyes, and listen to a reading of a fine poem. Okay, you don’t have to close your eyes.

A Barred Owl

By Richard Wilbur

The warping night air having brought the boom
Of an owl’s voice into her darkened room,
We tell the wakened child that all she heard
Was an odd question from a forest bird,
Asking of us, if rightly listened to,
“Who cooks for you?” and then “Who cooks for you?”

Words, which can make our terrors bravely clear,
Can also thus domesticate a fear,
And send a small child back to sleep at night
Not listening for the sound of stealthy flight
Or dreaming of some small thing in a claw
Borne up to some dark branch and eaten raw.

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5 Comments Add yours

  1. Brian Dean Powers says:

    Oh the lovely rhythm of iambic pentameter. I’m glad to encounter it in modern works.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes! It’s something I was talking to Micah about. Wilbur has a way of making his rhyme and meter so smooth that is seems to come naturally.


    2. Brian Dean Powers says:

      Do you think he meant to make a pun on barred/bard?

      Liked by 1 person

  2. If I recall rightly, he loved double meanings, so I find it likely. But even if he didn’t intend it at first, surely it dawned on him eventually, and he was probably quite pleased with himself. 🙂


  3. Brian Dean Powers says:

    I just finished reading his book, Mayflies, and picked up my library’s copy of Things of This World. So I was dismayed to learn this evening that Richard Wilbur passed away last Saturday (10-14-17). Somehow, it seems fitting I asked the library to get the book from storage earlier today (the bar code of the book didn’t match their computer system, so we had a little problem to fix).

    Liked by 1 person

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