War and its aftermath have had significant impact on our world. During every moment in human history, there has been at least one group of people contending one another, meaning that the notion of world peace has never been entirely present. As everyone grows their understanding of war and develops their own opinion about, a form of expression that can give intensity by the use of distinctive words and rhyme prospered, poetry. “The Owl” by Edward Thomas highlights the after effects of a soldier who escaped the horrors of the front line. As he feels the bliss of the getaway, he hears “an owl’s cry, a most melancholy cry” (The Owl, Thomas) and can’t help but feel the mental anguish over the fate of his compatriots; something that will eat at him for the rest of his life.
As I’ve analyzed the content of the poem, it was also my assignment to analyze its literary devices and structure. The poem consists of 4 stanzas and 16 lines total, with 4 lines per stanza; all have about the same length and the same sincere and desolate tone. The poem follows the ABCB ABCB ABCB ABCB structure, with only having the last word of the second and fourth line of each stanza rhyme. Thomas effectively uses contrasting themes in his poem, satisfaction and deprivation, to convey reality of a war soldier. In the whole poem the word ‘Owl’ occurs only once in the eighth line. Yet, that word is key, because it forebodes the intensity of the soldier’s feelings and symbolizes agony caused by the war. The traditional meaning of the owl spirit animal is the announcer of death, thus being a suitable fit for the poem. In our minds, its cry creates a sense of impending calamity and suffering, and that’s exactly what Thomas wants us to feel.
Since creating a poem that’s similar to my chosen poem was another part of the assignment, I recreated “the Owl” into my very own version. One of the residing themes of the poem was suffering. This was conveyed through the sound of the owl, and thus I decided to do the same thing. The cry of a dog, which like almost any other cry, means suffering or pain. In my poem, it symbolizes not only the hound’s suffering, but also “mine”. I followed the structure and the rhythm of “the Owl” by having 4 stanzas and 16 lines, 4 per stanza; also having the last word of the second and fourth line of each stanza rhyme. As for the contrast, “the Hound” contrasts denial and acceptance as the cause of an unnecessary death of a pet dog who got hit by a car on the highway. Since both are based on true events, I can conclude that both poems are entirely parallel in everything, but content.
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.
Uphill I ran, tired, and yet not exhausted Fearful, yet had hope within me that was proof Against the northern stream; fallen, so that it Had seemed to be his final woof
Then at the side, I had him in my hand Knowing how sad, alone, and paralyzed was I All of the time was quite barred out except A hound’s cry, an ultimately dying cry
Lain out long and clear upon the hill No merry note for an unnecessary death But one telling me plain to accept And other had too, that day, his last breath
And devastating were my tears, and my repose Devastating and sobered, too, by the hound’s cry Speaking for all who lost ones they’ve loved Our answer shall never be answered as to why.