Nor cheerful voice is heard from man’s abode,
Nor sounding footsteps on the neighb’ring road;
Nor glimm’ring fire the distant cottage tells;
On all around a fearful stillness dwells:
The mingled noise of industry is laid,
And silence deepens with the nightly shade.
Though still the haunts of men, and shut their light,
Thou art not silent, dark mysterious Night,
The cries of savage creatures wildly break
Upon thy quiet; birds ill-omen’d shriek;
Commotions strange disturb the rustling trees;
And heavy plaints come on the passing breeze.
Far on the lonely waste, and distant way,
Unwonted sounds are heard, unknown of day.
With shrilly screams the haunted cavern rings;
And heavy treading of unearthly things
Sounds loud and hollow thro’ the ruin’d dome;
Yea, voices issue from the secret tomb.
But lo! a sudden flow of bursting light!
What wild surrounding scenes break on the sight!
Huge rugged rocks uncouthly low’r on high,
Whilst on the plain their lengthen’d shadows lie.
The wooded banks in streamy brightness glow;
And waving darkness skirts the flood below.
The roving shadow hastens o’er the stream;
And like a ghost’s pale shrowd the waters glean.
Black fleeting shapes across the valley stray:
Gigantic forms tow’r on the distant way:
The sudden winds in wheeling eddies change:
’Tis all confus’d, unnatural, and strange.
Now all again in horrid gloom is lost:
Wild wakes the breeze like sound of distant host:
Bright shoots along the swift returning light:
Succeeding shadows close the startled sight.
Some restless spirit holds the nightly sway:
Long is the wild, and doubtful is my way.
Inconstant Night, whate’er thy changes be,
It suits not man to be alone with thee.
O! for the shelt’ring roof of lowest kind,
Secure to rest with others of my hind!
A discontented mind.
How thick the clouds of night are rang’d o’er
Confounding darkness o’er the earth is spread.
The clouded moon her cheering count’nance hides;
And feeble stars, between the ragged sides
Of broken clouds, with unavailing ray,
Look thro’ to mock the trav’ller on his way.
Tree, bush, and rugged rock, and hollow dell,
In deeper shades their forms confus’dly tell,
To cheat the weary wand’rer’s doubtful eye;
Whilst chilly passing winds come ruffling by;
And tangled briars perplex the darken’d pass;
And slimy reptiles glimmer on the grass;
And stinging night-flies spend their cursed spite;
Unhospitable are thy shades, O Night!
Now hard suspicion bars the creaking door;
And safe within the selfish worldlings snore:
And wealthy fools are warm in downy bed:
And houseless beggars shelter in the shed:
And nestling coveys cow’r beneath the brake;
While prowling mischief only is awake.
Each hole and den fends forth its cursed brood,
And savage bloody creatures range the wood.
The thievish vagrant plies his thriftless trade
Beneath the friendly shelter of the shade;
Whilst boldest risk the lawless robber braves:
The day for fools was made, and night for knaves.