Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
America: Vols. XXV–XXIX. 1876–79.

Southern States: Potomac, the River, Va.

Night Scene

By Asa Moore Bolles (1802–1832)


’T IS midnight!—through the dusky pines

The night-wind faintly sighs,—the dew

Just twinkles on the leaf, as shines

The starlight from its home of blue:

Around how calm! above how clear!

No murmur wakes an echo here.

The broad deep river noiseless flows,

The ripple on the shore expires

Without a sound,—its bosom glows,

Another sky with all its fires,

And glasses purely, deeply down

Night’s raven brow and starry crown.

Far down the winding silent bay

Where wave and sky uniting sweep

In darker lines, a trembling ray

Comes gleaming o’er the mirrored deep;

Bright, bright amid the horizon’s gloom

It glows like hope above the tomb!

Through many a wild and stormy night,

Amid the tempest’s gathering war

And hissing wrath, that Cresset’s light

Above the surge has beamed,—a star

To cheer the seaman’s eye, when dark

And dashing billows smote his bark.

But thus, when heaven and earth are still,

And e’en yon snowy wild swan’s cry

Is hushed,—no echo from the hill,

And winds are sleeping in the sky,—

How pure that midnight beacon glows,

The brooding spirit of repose!

But see!—yon eastern blood-red streaks

Deepening along night’s starry band!

Slow rising o’er the wood-crowned peaks,

Whose shadows sweep the distant strand,

Peere forth the queen of night,—but now

The crown is fading on her brow.

Her glance is on the deep,—so dim

And joyless o’er the blue wave bending,

You scarce may mark on ocean’s brim

Yon white sail with the sea-mist blending;

Away!—how pale its light wing flies,

Like some pure spirit of the skies!

Lone lovely night! in hours like this,

To heaven first rose my raptured eye;

And pictured forms in dreams of bliss

Came floating through the shadowy sky;

Gay dreams of youth!—they could not stay,

But fled like yon lone sail away!