night musings: two poems

Image: Library of Congress
Image: Library of Congress


Hail, holy night with all thy quietude
And stars. Calmness and gentle rest
Cometh with thee, and thoughts higher
Than Earth’s low confines. I would
Gaze upon the spangles of thy robe,
Pulseless and solemn night,
And wander in my heart to those far climes,
Beyond creation and corruption.
I would forget mortality, forget
The weariness and strife, sickness
And toil of life, and mount afar,
Enjoying brief, yet blissful respite
From pervading memories of faded joys,
Blank hopes, and all the countless
Sicknesses of doomed humanity.

                Take me, my soul,
With wing untired and free,
Far, far beyond those angel watches,
Even higher than the brilliant pavement
Of the sky. Upward mount, nor pause
To fold thy pinions, till, heaven’s portal gained,
I rest secure. There I would pause awhile
And breathe celestial air; there I would
List, and catch the notes of those
Who long have left our sorrow-haunted spot,
To dwell forever near the Throne of God.

                As thus I muse,
My soul will gather strength
To wear a few short years, this weary lot,
To bless, nor question it, the wise decree
Which places me amid a world of blight,
Crushed hearts and desolated homes.

Star-studded firmament, all hail!
Beauty, sublimity and solemn light,
All hail! And sable, dun-clad night
With thy redeeming vestment of fair stars,
And all thy quietude, and spells unutterable–
My soul awakes in thy dominion,
And rejoices in thy reign. Feels less
Her fetters, upward rises, and peers
Through the far-stretching canopy
Of heaven, strains her keen vision–
Catches a glimpse of uncreated day.

Newark, April 3, 1840.



        Some fancy, that the Dead
        No more revisit earth,
As birds return not to the bed,
        That cradled them at birth.

        Forbid to look behind,
        They leave the shores of time,
A melancholy band, to find,
        Like Lot, an unknown clime.

        If there’s a gulf between
        The future world and this,
A Bridge of Sighs must intervene,
        And join them both in bliss.

        Heaven bends its canopy
        T’ embrace the world below;
The tears and smiles of earth and sky
        Blend in one radiant Bow.

         Our spirits sometimes flow
        In an unwonted tide;
From souls in Heaven those currents go,
        By elysian springs supplied.

        At midnight’s solemn chime
        Descend the Spirit Dead,
As once they look’d to me in time
        Ere health and youth had fled.

        And chief among them stands
        One ever-lov’d, and wept,
Who nightly comes from shadowy lands,
        Her dying promise kept.

        O night! what skies, what scenes
        Your portal dark unfolds;
Which blazing day blots out, or screens,
        And only God beholds!

        Within the ocean-shell
        Is heard a murmur low,
That seems of mermaid caves to tell,
        Where groves of coral grow.

        Even so, departed friends
        May feel a lingering love
For earthly homes, which memory blends
        With palaces above.

        Has earth such happiness
        Among her drossy joys,
As souls, communing thus, possess,
        Which time, nor death, destroys?

Newark, Feb. 1845.

Signed “Rosette” and “S. J. G.” respectively, these poems appeared in the Newark Daily Advertiser of April 4, 1840, and February 14, 1845.

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