Maurice Thompson

An Owl

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What art thou, say, a bird, or beast, or what?
Leering from that old plane-tree's hollow stem!
Thine eyes have something criminal in them,
And thy hooked beak suggests a chilling thought
Of midnight murder of sweet sleeping things,
Dreaming with delicate heads beneath their wings,
And of thy hideous presence knowing not,
Till thou dost swoop! ... I scarce can look at thee
Without a shudder, thinking how of old,
In frightful dungeons far beyond the sea,
The heathen kings their prisoners would hold
For devilish wreaking of their cruelty,
And, while the beasts lapped human blood as wine,
Laughed in a husky, heartless voice, like thine!

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Maurice Thompson