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“Shall I nestle near thy side?
Would'st thou me?”—And I replied,
“No, not thee.”
Death will come when thou art dead,
Soon, too soon-
Sleep will come when thou art fled;
Of neither would I ask the boon
I ask of thee, belovèd Night-
Swift be thine approaching flight,
Come soon, soon!
Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792–1822)
MYSTERIOUS Night! when our first parent knew
Thee from report divine, and heard thy name,
Did he not tremble for this lovely frame,
This glorious canopy of light and blue?
Yet 'neath the curtain of translucent dew,
Bathed in the rays of the great setting flame,
Hesperus with the host of heaven came,
And lo! creation widened on man's view.
Who could have thought such darkness lay concealed
Within thy beams, O Sun! or who could find,
While fly, and leaf, and insect stood revealed,
That to such countless orbs thou mad'st us blind!
Why do we, then, shun Death with anxious strifc?—
If Light can thus deceive, wherefore not Life?
Joseph Blanco White (1775-1841)
MYSTERIOUS night! Spread wide thy silvery plume!
Soft as swan's down, brood o'er the sapphirine
Breadth of still shadowy waters dark as wine;
Smooth out the liquid heavens that stars illume!
Come with fresh airs breathing the faint perfume
Of deep-walled gardens, groves of whispering pine;
Scatter soft dews, waft pure sea-scent of brine;
In sweet repose man's pain, man's love resume!
Deep-bosomed night! Not here where down the marge
Marble with palaces those lamps of earth
Tremble on trembling blackness; nay, far hence,
There on the lake where space is lone and large,
And man's life lost in broad indifference,
Lift thou the soul to spheres that gave her birth!
John Addington Symonds (1840–1893)
Night is the time for rest;
How sweet, when labors close,
To gather round an aching breast
The curtain of repose,
Stretch the tired limbs, and lay the head
Down on our own delightful bed!
Night is the time for dreams;
The gay romance of life,
When truth that is, and truth that seems,
Blend in fantastic strife;
Ah! visions, less beguiling far
Than waking dreams by daylight are!
Night is the time for toil;
To plough the classic field,
Intent to find the buried spoil
Its wealthy furrows yield;
Till all is ours that sages taught,
That poets sang, or heroes wrought.
Night is the time to weep;
To wet with unseen tears
Those graves of Memory, where sleep
The joys of other years;
Hopes, that were Angels at their birth,
But perished young, like things of earth.
Night is the time to watch;
O'er ocean's dark expanse,
To hail the Pleiades, or catch
The full moon's earliest glance,
That brings into the homesick mind
All we have loved and left behind.
Night is the time for care;
Brooding on hours misspent,
To see the spectre of Despair
Come to our lonely tent;
Like Brutus, 'midst his slumbering host,
Summoned to die by Cæsar's ghost.
Night is the time to think;
When, from the eye, the soul
Takes flight; and, on the utmost brink,
Of yonder starry pole
Descries beyond the abyss of night
The dawn of uncreated light.
Night is the time to pray;
Our Saviour oft withdrew
To desert mountains far away;
So will his followers do,-
Steal from the throng to haunts untrod,
And hold communion there with God.
Night is the time for Death;
When all around is peace,
Calmly to yield the weary breath,
From sin and suffering cease,
Think of heaven's bliss, and give the sign
To parting friends;—such death be mine!
James Montgomery (1771-1854)
Vast Chaos, of eld, was God's dominion;
'Twas His beloved child, His own first-born;
And He was agèd ere the thought of morn
Shook the sheer steeps of dim Oblivion.
Then all the works of darkness being done
Through countless æons hopelessly forlorn,
Out to the very utmost verge and bourne,
God at the last, reluctant, made the sun.
He loved His darkness still, for it was old;
He grieved to see His eldest child take flight;
And when His Fiat Lux the death-knell tolled,
As the doomed Darkness backward by Him rolled,
He snatched a remnant flying into light
And strewed it with the stars, and called it Night.
Lloyd Mifflin (1846–
I HEARD the trailing garments of the Night
Sweep through her marble halls!
I saw her sable skirts all fringed with light
From the celestial walls!
I felt her presence, by its spell of might,
Stoop o'er me from above;
The calm, majestic presence of the Night,
As of the one I love.
I heard the sounds of sorrow and delight,
The manifold, soft chimes,
That fill the haunted chambers of the Night,
Like some old poet's rhymes.
From the cool cisterns of the midnight air
My spirit drank repose;
The fountain of perpetual peace flows there,–
From those deep cisterns flows.
O holy Night! from thee I learn to bear
What man has borne before!
Thou layest thy finger on the lips of Care,
And they complain no more.
Peace! Peace! Orestes-like I breathe this prayer!
Descend with broad-winged flight, The welcome, the thrice-prayed for, the most fair, The best-belovèd Night!
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882]
Dawn and Dark
GOD with His million cares
Went to the left or right, Leaving our world; and the day
Back from a sphere He came
Over a starry lawn,
Looked at our world; and the dark
Norman Gale (1862–