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by William Cullen Bryant


O Constellations of the early night

That sparkled brighter as the twilight died

And made the darkness glorious! I have seen

Your rays grow dim upon the horizon's edge

And sink behind the mountains. I have seen

The great Orionwith his jewelled belt

That large-limbed warrior of the skiesgo down

Into the gloom. Beside him sank a crowd

Of shining ones. I look in vain to find

The group of sister-starswhich mothers love

To show their wondering babesthe gentle Seven.

Along the desert space mine eyes in vain

Seek the resplendent cressets which the Twins

Uplifted in their ever-youthful hands.

The streaming tresses of the Egyptian Queen

Spangle the heavens no more. The Virgin trails

No more her glittering garments through the blue.

Gone! all are gone! and the forsaken Night

With all her windsin all her dreary wastes

Sighs that they shine upon her face no more.

Now only here and there a little star

Looks forth alone. Ah me! I know them not

Those dim successors of the numberless host

That filled the heavenly fieldsand flung to earth

Their quivering fires. And now the middle watch

Betwixt the eve and morn is pastand still

The darkness gains upon the skyand still

It closes round my way. Shallthenthe Night

Grow starless in her later hours? Have these

No train of flaming watchersthat shall mark

Their coming and farewell? O Sons of Light!

Have ye then left me ere the dawn of day

To grope along my journey sad and faint?

Thus I complainedand from the darkness round

A voice replied- was it indeed a voice

Or seeming accents of a waking dream

Heard by the inner ear? But thus it said:

O Traveller of the Night! thine eyes are dim

With watching; and the miststhat chill the vale

Down which thy feet are passinghide from view

The ever-burning stars. It is thy sight

That is so darkand not the heavens. Thine eyes

Were they but clearwould see a fiery host

Above thee; Herculeswith flashing mace

The Lyre with silver chordsthe Swan uppoised

On gleaming wingsthe Dolphin gliding on

With glistening scalesand that poetic steed

With beamy manewhose hoof struck out from earth

The fount of Hippocreneand many more

Fair clustered splendorswith whose rays the Night

Shall close her march in gloryere she yield

To the young Daythe great earth steeped in dew.

So spake the monitorand I perceived

How vain were my repiningsand my thought

Went backward to the vanished years and all

The good and great who came and passed with them

And knew that ever would the years to come

Bring with themin their coursethe good and great

Lights of the worldthoughto my clouded sight

Their rays might seem but dimor reach me not. - -