Verse > Anthologies > Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. > An American Anthology, 1787–1900
Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. (1833–1908).  An American Anthology, 1787–1900.  1900.
1269. At Night
By George Edgar Montgomery
THE SUN is sinking over hill and sea,
  Its red light fires a spectral line of shore;
Night droops upon our half-world mistily
  With sombre glory and ghost-haunted lore;
The stars show dim and pallid in the sky,        5
  Vague, wraith-white glimmerings of volcanic spheres,
  And a slim crescent of the moon appears
Like some young herald in the hours that die.
Soon we who watch the fading of a day,
  Who feel the cool winds of the ocean blow        10
Upon our dusk fields in sweet, vagrant way,
  Freshening earth’s arid spaces with their glow,
Stand forth amid the infinite peace of night,
  An infinite peace for high and holy souls
  That strive to find their far, mysterious goals        15
Beyond the horizon of their eager sight.
At this sequestered hour when tender sleep
  Holds out to listless lives its precious boon,
When men grow weary of the fruits they reap,
  Grow weary of recurrent dawn and noon,        20
Peace dwells upon them for a little while,
  Like dew and shade upon the growing grass,
  And, mindless of uncounted hours that pass,
They woo a deep oblivion and they smile.
Yet I, whose nights are full of waking dreams,        25
  Sleep not—but watch the furtive moments drift
Like sluggish waves, and watch the fire-bright gleam
  Of vibrant planets rolling straight and swift
Along their orbit pathways, even as life
  Moves in its earthward orbit to the grave,        30
  Till I, an atom, doomed to weep and slave,
Feel my fast kinship with celestial strife.
For now I see the universe outspread
  Within my vision, as with close-shut lids
One may read clear the history of the dead        35
  And stand with Pharaohs by the Pyramids,
Or sit within some rare Athenian home;
  Yes, as the words and deeds of men are brought
  Into the widening circle of my thought,
The stars grow real to me like deathless Rome.        40


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