Night


Earth of departed sunset, the eager light dispell’d—(I too will soon be gone, dispell’d,)
The coming eve delicious, a sky of limpid pearl over all,
The airy, different, changing hues of all, in falling twilight—
And so evening.

Through the long-lingering half-light of the most superb of evenings,
The party of young fellows, robust, friendly,
Singing with open mouths their strong melodious songs.
Flaunt of the sunshine I need not your bask, lie over,
You light surfaces only, I force the surfaces and the depths also,
The deep between the setting and rising sun goes deeper many fold,
However lush and pompous the day may be, there is something left in the not-day that can outvie it. 

There are hours of nature, especially of the atmosphere, mornings and evenings, address’d to the soul,
Those hours that give hints to the soul, impossible to put in a statement.
Night transcends, for that purpose, what the proudest day can do,
The teeming spiritual darkness, the hiding receiving night that talks not.

This is thy hour O Soul, thy free flight into the wordless,
Away from books, away from art, the day erased, the lesson done,
Thee fully forth emerging, silent, gazing, pondering the themes thou lovest best,
Night, sleep, death, and the stars.
The soul retires in the cool communion of the welcome night and the stars, and surveys its experience—
Ah, where would be any food for spirituality without night and the stars?

Perfect or nearly perfect days, I notice, are not so very uncommon; but the combinations that make perfect nights are few, even in a lifetime—miracles of clearness and purity;
We have one of those perfections tonight, a wonderful conjunction of all that goes to make those sometime miracle-hours after sunset—so near and yet so
far,
With the sentiment of the stars and moon such nights, I get all the free margins and indefiniteness of music or poetry, fused in geometry’s utmost exactness;

Night of south winds, how solemn! sweeping this dense black tide, the netherward black of the night,
The atmosphere that rare vitreous blue-black,
Shades of night, blue-black, transparent, full-starr’d, shadowy.
Elements merge in the night that envelops me,
All
the influences do me good—the cool night air, the silence, the earth and sea half-held by the night, with those far-off eternal stars, every star dilated, more vitreous, nearer than usual.

It is the spirit’s hour, so fascinating, dreamy—almost conscious of a definite presence, nature silently near—the visible suggestion of God in space and time—now once definitely indicated, if never again,
Now I absorb immortality and peace,
The myth of heaven indicates peace and night.

Another stately and solemn night, I was awake much, watching the stars as they twinkled, and saw the countless armies of heaven marching stilly in the space up there, marching stilly and slowly on, and others coming up out of the east to take their places. Not a sound, not an insect, interrupted the exquisite silence.
Alertness and peace lay calmly couching together through the fluid universal shadows,
An indescribable serenity pervaded my mind—a delicious abnegation of the ties of the body,
Thoughts of the boundless creation must have expanded my mind,
I fancied myself leaping forward into the extent of the space, springing as it were from star to star.

I am he that walks with the tender and growing night,
Huge and thoughtful night, inexpressibly pensive,
Moody, tearful night, inexpressibly rich, suggestive,
Still, nodding, slumberous night, indolent and spiritual, indescribable,
With its own tender and temper’d splendor.
I walk in cool refreshing night the walks of paradise,
I breathe the fragrance myself—the natural perfume belonging to the night alone—and know it and like it.

Press close, bare-bosomed night,
Press close,  magnetic, nourishing night,
Amorous night, with mystic beauty,
Full of love also, and full of greater
life.

O night! do I not see my love?
My truant lover has come, and it is dark,
Double yourself and receive me darkness,
Receive me and my lover too, he will not let me go without him.

He whom I call answers me and takes the place of my lover,
He rises with me silently from the bed.
Darkness, you are gentler than my lover, his flesh was sweaty and panting,
I roll myself upon you as upon a bed, I resign myself to the
dusk.
Be careful darkness! already what was it touch’d me?
I thought my lover had gone, else darkness and he are one.

I hear the heart-beat, I follow, I fade away,
A haze—nirwana—rest and night—oblivion—
Yet each to keep and all, retrievements out of the night.

NEXT: MIDNIGHT TO MORNING TWILIGHT