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Who filled thy countenance with rosy light ?
Who made thee parent of perpetual streams ?
And you, ye five wild torrents fiercely glad !
Who called you forth from night and utter death,
From dark and icy caverns called you forth,
Down those precipitous, black, jagged rocks,
Forever shattered and the same forever ?
Who gave you your invulnerable life,
Your strength, your speed, your fury, and your joy,
Unceasing thunder and eternal foam ?
And who commanded (and the silence came),
Here let the billows stiffen, and have rest ?
Ye ice-falls ! ye that from the mountain's brow
Adown enormous ravines slope amain,-
Torrents, methinks, that heard a mighty voice,
And stopped at once amid their maddest plunge -
Mctionless torrents ! silent cataracts!
Who made you glorious as the gates of heaven
Beneath the keen, full moon? Who bade the sun
Clothe you with rainbows? Who, with living flowers
Of loveliest blue, spread garlands at your feet ? —
God! let the torrents, like a shout of nations,
Answer! and let the ice-plains echo, God!
God! Sing, ye meadow-streams, with gladsome voice !
Ye pine groves, with your soft and soul-like sounds !
And they too have a voice, yon piles of snow,
And in their perilous fall shall thunder, God!
Ye living flowers that skirt the eternal frost !
Ye wild goats sporting round the eagle's nest !
Ye eagles, playmates of the mountain storm!
Ye lightnings, the dread arrows of the clouds !
Ye signs and wonders of the elements !
Utter forth God, and fill the hills with praise !
Thou too, hoar Mount! with thy sky-pointing peaks,
Oft from whose feet the avalanche, unheard,
Shoots downward, glittering through the pure serene
Into the depth of clouds, that veil thy breast, —
Thou too again, stupendous mountain ! thou
That as I raise my head, a while bowed low
In adoration, upward from thy base
Slow travelling with dim eyes suffused with tears,
Solemnly seemest, like a vapory cloud,
To rise before me. — Rise, oh, ever rise,
Rise like a cloud of incense from the earth!
Thou kingly spirit, throned among the hills,
Thou dread ambassador from earth to heaven,
Great hierarch! tell thou the silent sky,
And tell the stars, and tell yon rising sun,
Earth, with her thousand voices, praises God.
SAMUEL TAYLOR COLERIDGE.
At last the golden oriental gate
Of greatest heaven 'gan to open fair,
And Phoebus, fresh as bridegroom to his mate,
Came dancing forth, shaking his dewy hair ;
And hurls his glistening beams through gloomy air.
EDMUND SPENSER (The Faerie Queene).
Look, love, what envious streaks
Do lace the severing clouds in yonder east;
Night's candles are burnt out, and jocund day
Stands tiptoe on the misty mountain-tops.
WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE (Romeo and Juliet).
THE night was dark, though sometimes a faint star
A little while a little space made bright.
Dark was the night, and like an iron bar
Lay heavy on the land : till o'er the sea
Slowly, within the East, there grew a light
Which half was starlight, and half seemed to be
The herald of a greater. The pale white
Turned slowly to pale rose, and up the height
Of heaven slowly climbed. The gray sea grew
Rose-colored like the sky. A white gull flew
Straight toward the utmost boundary of the East
Where slowly the rose gathered and increased.
It was as on the opening of a door
By one who in his hand a lamp doth hold
(Its flame yet hidden by the garment's fold), –
The still air moves, the wide room is less dim.
More bright the East became, the ocean turned
Dark and more dark against the brightening sky —
Sharper against the sky the long sea line.
The hollows of the breakers on the shore
Were green like leaves whereon no sun doth shine,
Though white the outer branches of the tree.
From rose to red the level heaven burned ;
Then sudden, as if a sword fell from on high,
A blade of gold flashed on the ocean's rim.
RICHARD WATSON GILDER (The New Day).
HAIL, HOLY LIGHT
Hail, holy Light, offspring of Heaven first-born !
Or of the Eternal coeternal beam,
May I express thee unblamed? since God is light,
And never but in unapproached light
Dwelt from eternity — dwelt then in thee,
Bright effluence of bright essence increate !
Or hear'st thou rather pure ethereal stream,
Whose fountain who shall tell? Before the Sun,
Before the Heavens thou wert, and at the voice
Of God, as with a mantle, didst invest
The rising world of waters dark and deep,
Won from the void and formless Infinite !
For wonderful indeed are all His works.
Pleasant to know, and worthiest to be all
Had in remembrance always with delight !
But what created mind can comprehend
Their number, or the wisdom infinite
That brought them forth, but hid their causes deep ?
I saw when, at his word, the formless mass,
This World's material mould, came to a heap:
Confusion heard His voice, and wild Uproar
Stood ruled, stood vast Infinitude confined ;
Till, at his second bidding, darkness fled,
Light shone, and order from disorder sprung.
JOHN MILTON (Paradise Lost).
O MAJESTIC Night!
Nature's great ancestor ! day's elder-born,
And fated to survive the transient sun!
By mortals and immortals seen with awe!
A starry crown thy raven brow adorns,
An azure zone thy waist ; clouds, in heaven's loom
Wrought through varieties of shape and shade,
In ample folds of drapery divine,
Thy flowing mantle form; and heaven throughout
Voluminously pour thy pompous train.
Thy gloomy grandeurs (Nature's most august,
Inspiring aspect !) claim a grateful verse ;
And, like a sable curtain starred with gold,
Drawn o'er my labors past, shall close the scene.
EDWARD YOUNG (Night Thoughts).
NIGHT ALL heaven and earth are still — though not in sleep, But breathless, as we grow when feeling most; And silent, as we stand in thoughts too deep. All heaven and earth are still ; from the high host Of stars, to the lull’d lake and mountain-coast, All is concentred in a life intense, Where not a beam, nor air, nor leaf is lost, · But hath a part of being, and a sense Of that which is of all Creator and defence.
And this is in the night - most glorious night!
Thou wert not sent for slumber ! let me be
A sharer in thy fierce and far delight, –
A portion of the tempest and of thee!
How the lit lake shines, a phosphoric sea,
And the big rain comes dancing to the earth!
And now again 't is black,- and now, the glee
Of the loud hill shakes with its mountain-mirth,
As if they did rejoice o’er a young earthquake's birth.
LORD BYRON (Childe Harold).
SWIFTLY walk over the western wave,
Spirit of Night!
Out of the misty eastern cave
Where all the long and lone daylight
Thou wovest dreams of joy and fear,
Which make thee terrible and dear,
Swift be thy flight!
Wrap thy form in a mantle gray,
Blind with thine hair the eyes of Day,
Kiss her until she be wearied out,
Then wander o'er city and sea and land,
Touching all with thine opiate wand, -
Come, long sought !
When I arose and saw the dawn,
I sighed for thee :
When light rode high, and the dew was gone,
And noon lay heavy on flower and tree,
And the weary Day turned to his rest,
Lingering like an unloved guest,
I sighed for thee.
Thy brother, Death, came, and cried,
“ Wouldst thou me ?”
Thy sweet child, Sleep, the filmy-eyed,
Murmur'd like a noontide bee,
“ Shall I nestle near thy side ?
Wouldst 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, beloved Night,-
Swift be thine approaching flight,
Come soon, soon!
PERCY BYSSHE SHELLEY.
YE stars ! which are the poetry of heaven,
If in your bright leaves we would read the fate
Of men and empires, - 't is to be forgiven
That in our aspirations to be great
Our destinies o'erleap their mortal state,
And claim a kindred with you; for ye are
A beauty and a mystery, and create
In us such love and reverence from afar,
That fortune, fame, power, life, have named themselves a star.
LORD BYRON (Childe Harold).
DAY IS DYING
Day is dying! Float, O song,
Down the westward river,
Requiem chanting to the Day —
Day, the mighty Giver.
Pierced by shafts of Time he bleeds,
Melted rubies sending
Through the river and the sky,
Earth and heaven blending;
All the long-drawn earthy banks
Up to cloud-land lifting :
Slow between them drifts the swan,
'Twixt two heavens drifting.