Friday, November 11, 2016

John Haines: "If the Owl Calls Again"

I'm not sure why, but this poem struck a chord in me.  I know nothing about John Haines; I had never even heard of him until I read this poem in a collection.

If the Owl Calls Again

at dusk
from the island in the river,
and it's not too cold,

I'll wait for the moon
to rise,
then take wing and glide
to meet him.

We will not speak,
but hooded against the frost
soar above
the alder flats, searching
with tawny eyes.

And then we'll sit 
in the shadowy spruce and
pick the bones
of careless mice,

while the long moon drifts
toward Asia
and the river mutters
in its icy bed.

And when morning climbs
the limbs
we'll part without a sound,

fulfilled, floating
homeward as
the cold wold awakens.

-- John Haines --
from  Art and Nature: An Illustrated Anthology of Nature Poetry 

A dream?   A vision?    A linking?    If this is a dream,  I would be sad for it was only a dream, but I also would be grateful for such  dreams.


  1. Imagining oneself as an animal says something about the human condition; why is the human not content with his status quo?

    At least he does not hear the owl call his name. In Native American lore, that is not a good prospect.

    1. R.T.,

      I have often wondered what it would be like to be in a particular animal's body. That doesn't mean I'm discontented, but that I'm curious about differing perspectives or POVs.

      I think it says that part of the human condition is a desire to extend one's boundaries, to learn more about the world, even if by using one's imagination. If this can be seen as discontent, so be it, but I don't see it that way. In addition, the only true status quo is death, for, after that, nothing changes that is significant.

  2. stunningly good images... and a wonderful effort... it reminds me, for some reason, of "Incident at Owl Creek Bridge" by Ambrose Bierce...

    1. Mudpuddle,

      Interesting, that never occurred to me. An owl somehow associated with escape or, at least, transformation, and as R.T. pointed out, also associated with death.

    2. Mudpuddle,

      A river is in both also. In both cases, the main character is above the river, either flying over it or being suspended over it. And, there is transformation in both.

      A very suggestive response to the poem.

    3. fred: sometimes the subconscious has a mind of it's own...

    4. Mudpuddle,

      That is true, and unfortunately, it is not sharing its insights with my conscious mind.

    5. hahaha well put... i've wondered: if we can't relate to ourselves, how can we relate to others? the planet is chockful of miracles...

    6. Mudpuddle,

      Some times I wonder if we have better insight into others' thinking and motivation than we do to our own.

    7. agree... i remember being surprised at something i did without knowing i was going to do it... the mind is like the ocean, with hidden depths, i guess...

    8. Mudpuddle,

      Yes, it's surprising what sometimes pops up from the lower depths.