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Nocturne

October 29, 2004

Mood: Quiet

Song: "Starry, Starry Night"

Bright star, would I were stedfast as thou art—

*John Keats*

*The night wanes, but I cannot rest. My thoughts race-

The darkness without mocks the light, but the light will surely pierce it.

*These poems below are in no specific order, but they do share a common theme*

* – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – *

“The Starlight Night”Gerard Manley Hopkins

Look at the stars! Look, look up at the skies!
O look at all the fire-folk sitting in the air!
The bright boroughs, the circle-citadels there!
Down in dim woods the diamond delves! The elves’-eyes!
The gray lawns cold where gold, where quickgold lies!
Wind-beat whitebeam! Airy abeles set on a flare!
Flake-dove sent floating forth at a farmyard scare!—
Ah well! it is all a purchase, all is a prize.

Buy then! bid then!—What?—Prayer, patience, alms, vows.
Look, look: a May-mess, like on orchard boughs!
Look! March-bloom, like on mealed-with-yellow sallows!
These are indeed the barn; withindoors house
The shocks. This piece-bright paling shuts the spous
Christ home, Christ and his mother and all his hallows.

1918

* – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – *

“She walks in beauty”George Gordon, Lord Byron

1
She walks in beauty, like the night
Of cloudless climes and starry skies;
And all that’s best of dark and bright
Meet in her aspect and her eyes;
Thus mellow’d to that tender light
Which heaven to gaudy day denies.

2
One shade the more, one ray the less,
Had half impair’d the nameless grace
Which waves in every raven tress,
Or softly lightens o’er her face;
How pure, how dear their dwelling-place.

3
And on that cheek, and o’er that brow,
So soft, so calm, yet eloquent,
The smiles that win, the tints that glow,
But tell of days in goodness spent,
A mind at peace with all below,
A heart whose love is innocent!

1815

* – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – *

“Moonlight”Juliet (as a high school senior)

Stealthily the shadows lengthen—
Silver light gleams on each tree.
Solitude now reigns.
Romantic moonlight, caressing gently;
Concealing moonlight, holding secrets.

Soon to sleep each will surrender
Under her wakeful vigil there.
Stars as sentinels swiftly glide
‘Cross the velvet carpet of a dream.

All nature quivers,
Anticipating dawn’s rosy tendrils,
Not yet come.
Time enough for day’s harsh light,
But for now she stands alone

1998, unpublished

* – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – *

From “The Love Poems of Marichiko”Kenneth Rexroth

LVII

Night without end. Loneliness.
The wind had driven a maple leaf
Against the shoji. I wait, as in the old days,
In our secret place, under the full moon.
The last bell crickets sing.
I found your old love letters,
Full of poems you never published.
Did it matter? They were only for me.

1978

* – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – *

“Meeting at Night”Robert Browning

The gray sea and the long black land;
And the yellow half-moon large and low;
And the startled little waves that leap
In fiery ringlets from their sleep,
As I gain the cove with pushing prow,
And quench its speed i’ the slushy sand.

Then a mile of warm sea-scented beach;
Three fields to cross till a farm appears;
A tap at the pane, the quick sharp scratch
And blue spurt of a lighted match,
And a voice less loud, through its joys and fears,
Than the two hearts beating each to each!

* – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – *

“Night”William Blake

The sun descending in the West,

The evening star does shine.

The birds are silent in their nest,

And I must seek for mine.

The moon, like a flower,

In heaven's high bower,

With silent delight

Sits and smiles on the night.Farewell green fields and happy groves,

Where flocks have took delight;

Where lambs have nibbled, silent moves

The feet of angels bright;

Unseen they pour blessing,

And joy without ceasing,

On each bud and blossom,

And each sleeping bosom.They look in every thoughtless nest,

Where birds are covered warm;

They visit caves of every beast,

To keep them all from harm.

If they see any weeping,

That should have been sleeping,

They pour sleep on their head

And sit down by their bed.When wolves and tygers howl for prey,

They pitying stand and weep;

Seeking to drive their thirst away,

And keep them from the sheep.

But, if they rush dreadful;

The angels, most heedful,

Receive each mild spirit,

New worlds to inherit.And there the lion's ruddy eyes

Shall flow with tears of gold:

And pitying the tender cries,

And walking round the fold:

Saying: “Wrath by His meekness

And, by his health, sickness,

Is driven away,

From our immortal day.“And now beside thee bleating lamb,

I can lie down and sleep;

Or think on Him who bore thy name,

Grase after thee, and weep.

For, wash’d in life's river,

My bright mane for ever

Shall shine like the gold,

As I guard o'er the fold.”

* – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – *

“A Night-Piece (composed by 5 January 1798; edited from MS)”William Wordsworth

The sky is overspread
With a close veil of one continous cloud
All whitened by the moon, that just appears
A dim-seen orb, yet chequers not the ground
With any shadow- plant, or tower, or tree.
At last, a pleasant gleam breaks forth at once,
An instantaneous light; the musing man
Who walks along with his eyes bent to earth
Is startled. He looks about, the clouds are split
Asunder, and above his head he views
The clear moon, and the glory of the heavens.
There in a black-blue vault she sails along,
Followed by multitudes of stars, that small,
And bright, and sharp, along the gloomy vault
Drive as she drives. How fast they wheel away,
Yet vanish not! The wind is in the trees,
But they are silent; still they roll along,
Immeasurably distant, and the vault
Built round by those white clouds, enormous clouds,
Still deepens its interminable depth.
At length the vision closes

* – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – *

“The Dark Night of the Soul”St. John of the Cross

Upon a darkened night

the flame of love was burning in my breast

And by a lantern bright

I fled my house while all in quiet restShrouded by the night

and by the secret stair I quickly fled

The veil concealed my eyes

While all within lay quiet as the dead

Oh night thou was my guide
Oh night more loving than the rising sun
Oh night that joined the lover
To the beloved one
Transforming each of them into the otherUpon that misty night

In secrecy, beyond such mortal sight

Without a guide or light

than that which burned so deeply in my heartThat fire ’twas led me on

And shone more bright than of the midday sun

To where he waited still

It was a place where no one else could comeWithin my pounding heart

Which kept itself entirely for him

He fell into his sleep

Beneath the cedars all my love I gave
From o’er the fortress walls

The wind would brush his hair against his brow

And with its smoothest hand

Caressed my every sense it would allowI lost myself to him

and laid my face upon my lover’s breast.

And care and grief grew dim

as in the morning’s mist became the light

There they dimmed amongst the lilies fair

There they dimmed amongst the lilies fair

There they dimmed amongst the lilies fair

* – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – *

“Whatif”

Shel Silverstein

Last night, while I lay thinking here,

some Whatifs crawled inside my ear

and pranced and partied all night long

and sang their same old Whatif song:

Whatif I'm dumb in school?

Whatif they've closed the swimming pool?

Whatif I get beat up?

Whatif there's poison in my cup?

Whatif I start to cry?

Whatif I get sick and die?

Whatif I flunk that test?

Whatif green hair grows on my chest?

Whatif nobody likes me?

Whatif a bolt of lightning strikes me?

Whatif I don't grow taller?

Whatif my head starts getting smaller?

Whatif the fish won't bite?

Whatif the wind tears up my kite?

Whatif they start a war?

Whatif my parents get divorced?

Whatif the bus is late?

Whatif my teeth don't grow in straight?

Whatif I tear my pants?

Whatif I never learn to dance?

Everything seems well, and then
the nighttime Whatifs strike again!

* – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – *

May your sleep be sweet, my friend, until night is conquered once again by the day.

Until then:

"…Thou couldst not cross

Even this line when once the sun had dropped.

Not that there's any hindrance, save the loss

Of light, to going up; it is night's gloom

Makes impotent the will and thwarts it thus.

Dante Alighieri, Il Purgatorio

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