A Barred Owl

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.

from Collected Poems 1943-2004 (Waywiser, 2005), copyright © Richard Wilbur 2005, used by permission of the author and the publisher

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1A Barred Owl

2For C.


4At Moorditch




8Crows' Nests

9Bone Key

10A Cry from Childhood

11A Wall in the Woods: Cummington


13This Pleasing Anxious Being

14The Ride


16The Catch


18Trolling for Blues


20A Finished Man

21Hamlen Brook

22A Storm in April

23The Writer

24To The Etruscan Poets

25The Eye

26Piccola Commedia

27The Mind-Reader

Books by Richard Wilbur