Fie! The handsome owl’s
Incessant speech, sick of soul
Stifles thought, prevents prayer
For every hour stars appear.
All last night I heard her weep
A sore lament to banish sleep.
A roost of bats her shelter
From rain and snow. I shudder
Each night, to hear her charm –
A chink of pennies – meaning harm.
Chieftains my eyelids: to obey
And close them, defeats me until day.
I lie awake, with fluttering heart
And wait for her to screech or hoot ,
Laugh or cry. My heart is wrung.
A pittance from false poet’s tongue.
Wretched zeal till break of day
Bids her groan till dawn grows grey.
I writhe tormented, wretched song –
‘Hw-ddy-hw’ – the whole night long.
She winds her horn to harry, haunt
And taunt the hounds of the Wild Hunt .
Dirty, shitten, with raucous throat,
Sharp as shards her baleful shout,
Berry-bellied, broad of brow,
Mouse devourer, ogling, brown,
Scheming, slatternly, dun and dull,
A shrivelled shriek from a domed skull
Throughout ten forests spilling fright,
Roebuck’s fetter, voice of night.
To ape a man’s, her flattened face,
Fiend of fowls, her form a farce .
No unclean bird would venture nigh
If once it heard her harping cry.
Philomel speaks less by day
Than she, who gossips night away.
When daylight comes, warmth to follow,
She sticks her head into a hollow.
The bird of Gwyn ap Nudd, her shriek
Bids hounds of Annwn not to shirk.
Lunatic owl! To robbers sing!
A curse upon your tongue and wing!
This song and spell I make, to scare
The owl who lurks within her lair.
Though frost is falling, I conspire
To fill each ivied hole with fire.
paraphrased by Giles Watson.