’Mid all the tribes of airy fowl,1
Nought is so wise as the horned owl :2
If in daylight he opens his eyes by chance,3
He shuts them again with a satisfied glance,4
For the rays of the sun make all things dim,5
And the light within is enough for him.6
While the hawk, the eagle, and birds as blind,7
Look with their eyes at whate’er they find,8
He in a method more sure by far9
Knows à priori what all things are ;10
And is, in a word, the profoundest sage11
That improves by darkness his twilight age.12
Hail to thee, wise metaphysical bird !13
Whose name in all dusky schools is heard ;14
Live thou, and prosper and spread thy reign,15
And soon will the sunshine intrude in vain.16
The rubbish of facts will be all removed,17
And Nature outvoted, and Light disproved ;18
For the purest idea lies farthest from things,19
And flash-like in darkness to being it springs.20
Hail to thee, wise and horned owl !21
Wisest of all that have worn the cowl ;22
Greater than all that have e’er in the East23
Their souls from the bondage of things released,24
And, scorning to trace what earth displays,25
Divined by a guess all Nature’s ways.26
Thoushapest, O sage ! by dogma stern27
The facts that some are content to learn ;28
And, while thy sons thine art profess,29
Ever shall flourish the praise of guess.30