Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807–1882). Complete Poetical Works. 1893.

Voices of the Night

The Light of Stars

  • “This poem was written on a beautiful summer night. The moon, a little strip of silver, was just setting behind the groves of Mount Auburn, and the planet Mars blazing in the southeast. There was a singular light in the sky.” H. W. L. It was published in the same number of the Knickerbocker as the last, where it was headed A Second Psalm of Life, and prefaced by another stanza from the same poem of Vaughan:—
  • It glows and glitters in my cloudy breast,
  • Like stars upon some gloomy grove,
  • Or those faint beams in which this hill is drest
  • After the sun’s remove.

  • THE NIGHT is come, but not too soon;

    And sinking silently,

    All silently, the little moon

    Drops down behind the sky.

    There is no light in earth or heaven

    But the cold light of stars;

    And the first watch of night is given

    To the red planet Mars.

    Is it the tender star of love?

    The star of love and dreams?

    Oh no! from that blue tent above

    A hero’s armor gleams.

    And earnest thoughts within me rise,

    When I behold afar,

    Suspended in the evening skies,

    The shield of that red star.

    O star of strength! I see thee stand

    And smile upon my pain;

    Thou beckonest with thy mailèd hand,

    And I am strong again.

    Within my breast there is no light

    But the cold light of stars;

    I give the first watch of the night

    To the red planet Mars.

    The star of the unconquered will,

    He rises in my breast,

    Serene, and resolute, and still,

    And calm, and self-possessed.

    And thou, too, whosoe’er thou art,

    That readest this brief psalm,

    As one by one thy hopes depart,

    Be resolute and calm.

    Oh, fear not in a world like this,

    And thou shalt know erelong,

    Know how sublime a thing it is

    To suffer and be strong.