By Charles Sangster



Midnight had set her star-emblazoned seal
Upon the slumbering world.  I could not sleep.
Thoughts flashed across my mind at every throb
Of my lone heart; and voices came to me,
From my hushed chamber’s solitary depths,


That I’d long loved to listen to.  I heard
The merry laugh of one, whose girlhood’s heart,
Light as the spotted fawn’s in summer woods, [Page 162]
Beat proudly when I smiled upon her love.
I saw her glide mysteriously past,


And felt the pressure of her heart-warmed hand.
The same rich music floated from her lips,
As when, in happier days, she sung to me
The tender ballads of a far-off land:
Her very breath was song, her words were odes,


That set the pulses of the heart aglow
With a divine exuberance of love,
As pure as starbeams round the throne of night.
My soul was flooded with a bounding joy—
Surely ’tis love that quickens us for heaven,


As day-break heralds the impassioned sun!
The heavy clouds that draped my spirit’s skies,
And hung like opiate slumbers on my brain,
Had burned to rose-hues in the flame of love.
She spake; my sense expanding like the rose


That opens to the song o’ the nightingale,
And buoys on wings of perfume every note,
Meeting the silvery breathings of the stars
Midway from heaven.  And sweet sleep came not.
My palpitating brain was burning with


The mountain-thoughts that crushed me with their weight,
And laid me panting on my restless couch.
I staggered forth and drank the cooling breeze
That swept with gentle motion through the air.
The dew of heaven lay upon the grass,


A mimic star-world on a ground of green
And on the trembling leaves of the young trees, [Page 163]
It glistened, like the globes of rain that lodge
Upon them after a refreshing shower.

    Silence was on my soul; and silence wrapt


The lucid atmosphere.  I looked above:
The stars were shining on the brow of night,
Like diamonds pendent from a sapphire dome,
And blazing planets glittered on her breast,
As jewels deck a queen.  There Venus burned


Her vestal lamp; and there Orion gleamed,
To cheer the mariner upon his way
Across the midnight waters; and along
The milky way a gauzy light was thrown,
Through which the bright stars glimmered, like the eyes


Of some fair beauty underneath her veil,
That cannot hide their dazzling brilliancy.
In the far west the moon was gliding down
To soothe the restless billows at her feet,
That wrapped their gray heads in her silver robes,


Leaving the untold myriads of stars
That syllable the praises of the night,
To sing their parting hymns ere they put on
Their robes of ether, or retire into
Their air-suspended chambers, hung aloft


By the strong arm of the Invisible.
The river, like a tired Palmer, lay
Dreaming of endless quite; but afar,
In the now darkened distance, which the eye
Could dimly penetrate, the noise of waves [Page 164]


Was heard distinctly, as they rolled along
In dead, unbroken swells: They heralded
The coming storm.  The rivulet that dashed
Its molten amber-drops of cooling water
Against the rocks that allied with its course,


Like red-haired giants toying with a child,
Mingled its precious tribute with the stream
That lay extended many a sullen mile,
But which regarded not the offering
Which evermore the streamlet ministered


To her insatiable thirst.  The breeze
Sprang down and loosed the white manes of the waves,
That, startled, moaned along the echoing shore,
Like snow wreaths scudding from the borean blast,
Shrieking aloud for fear.  These lashed the cliffs


Far up the mountain-side.  The unchained winds
Laid the old trees, that had withstood the gales
Of half a century, prostrate on the earth.
This sudden change the various passions of
The human mind resembled.  Quietness,


And Peace, and blissful Calm usurp the breast,
Until some unexpected power arise,
To force them from their place.  Shades dark and light
Are ever flitting o’er the mind.  These are
The ebb and flow—the evil and the good


Of human nature, that forever strive
Within us, each at times predominant.
In haste I sought my solitary home;
And as the morning had not dawned, I threw [Page 165]
Myself upon my couch, and meditated


On what had passed.  Delicious slumber came
Unbidden, and I sank into repose,
And dreamed of happy faces and bright forms
That used to mingle with my boyhood’s sports. [Page 166]