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Stedman and Hutchinson, comps. A Library of American Literature:
An Anthology in Eleven Volumes. 1891.
Vols. IX–XI: Literature of the Republic, Part IV., 1861–1889

Music of the Night

By John Neal (1793–1876)

THERE are harps that complain to the presence of night,

To the presence of night alone—

In a near and unchangeable tone—

Like winds, full of sound, that go whispering by,

As if some immortal had stooped from the sky,

And breathed out a blessing—and flown!

Yes! harps that complain to the breezes of night,

To the breezes of night alone;

Growing fainter and fainter, as ruddy and bright

The sun rolls aloft in his drapery of light,

Like a conqueror, shaking his brilliant hair

And flourishing robe, on the edge of the air!

Burning crimson and gold

On the clouds that unfold,

Breaking onward in flame, while an ocean divides

On his right and his left—So the Thunderer rides,

When he cuts a bright path through the heaving tides

Rolling on, and erect, in a charioting throne!

Yes! strings that lie still in the gushing of day,

That awake, all alive, to the breezes of night.

There are hautboys and flutes too, forever at play

When the evening is near, and the sun is away,

Breathing out the still hymn of delight.

These strings by invisible fingers are played—

By spirits, unseen and unknown,

But thick as the stars, all this music is made;

And these flutes, alone,

In one sweet dreamy tone,

Are ever blown,

Forever and forever.

The live-long night ye hear the sound,

Like distant waters flowing round

In ringing caves, while heaven is sweet

With crowding tunes, like halls

Where fountain-music falls,

And rival minstrels meet.