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A poem by Joanna Baillie

An Address To The Night: A Fearful Mind

Title:     An Address To The Night: A Fearful Mind
Author: Joanna Baillie [More Titles by Baillie]

Uncertain, awful as the gloom of death,
The Night's grim shadows cover all beneath.
Shapeless and black is ev'ry object round,
And lost in thicker gloom the distant bound.
Each swelling height is clad with dimmer shades,
And deeper darkness marks the hollow glades.
The moon in heavy clouds her glory veils,
And slow along their passing darkness sails;
While lesser clouds in parted fragments roam,
And red stars glimmer thro' the river's gloom.

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!

[The end]
Joanna Baillie's poem: Address To The Night: A Fearful Mind