Walking through the churchyard, as dusk fell, I heard the note of my old friend the owl. On reaching home I closed my bedroom window for it was a chilly evening. However, despite my double-glazing, the cold cry of the owl penetrated into my modern flat.
Ever since moving to the Upper Norwood area in late 1997, I have always been conscious of the owl. Sometimes he disappears for protracted periods but, as sure as eggs are eggs “the fatal bellman” reappears.
Hearing the owl reminds me of my poem which is, appropriately enough entitled “Owl”,
I’ve always felt an affinity with owls. My home is close to a historic park in Upper Norwood (a suburb of Greater London). From time to time, I hear the owls’ eerie cry, which brings to mind thoughts of my own mortality, coupled with the death of King Duncan in Macbeth.
Sounds are incredibly evocative. My home is some 25 minutes walk from several train stations. Occasionally, when the wind is in the right direction and most often at the dead of night when the traffic has ceased I hear the whistle of a train. It is a mournful sound which induces in me feelings of sadness. I am not sure why this should be the case. Perhaps it flows from my perception that there is something about the sound, in and of itself which is evocative of sadness. The speed of the train also reminds me that life is passing by rapidly, we are here now but very soon, like the speeding night train we will be lost in the darkness which for me is symbolic of death.
At other times I hear the hooting of an owl as he hunts in the park next to my home. It is an erie sound which has, in many different cultures been associated with bad luck or death. In Macbeth it is the bird of ill omen which portends the death of Duncan
Lady Macbeth: ”hark! Peace! It was the owl that shrieked, the fatal bellman,
Which gives the stern’st good-night”.
Whenever I hear the cry of an owl it is of lady Macbeth’s words that I think. However, having said that I love listening to the owl as he hunts for his prey. I can stand for long periods by my open window harkening to his call.
Some sounds produce feelings of rest and contentment. I love listening to the sound of running water. It is hypnotic and soothes me when I feel tired or stressed.
Of course the lack of sound can be wonderful. To sit in tranquillity reading or just relaxing is very necessary to the human spirit.