R L Stevenson Poem about Stars
Our passionate preoccupation with the sky, the stars, and a God somewhere in outer space is a homing impulse. We are drawn back to where we came from.Eric Hoffer
Some movie stars wear their sunglasses even in church. They're afraid God might recognize them and ask for autographs.Fred Allen
Human folly does not impede the turning of the stars.Tom Robbins
The Song Of Empedocles
And you, ye stars,
Who slowly begin to marshal,
As of old, in the fields of heaven,
Your distant, melancholy lines!
Have you, too, survived yourselves?
Are you, too, what I fear to become?
You, too, once lived;
You too moved joyfully
Among august companions,
In an older world, peopled by Gods,
In a mightier order,
The radiant, rejoicing, intelligent Sons of Heaven.
But now, ye kindle
Your lonely, cold-shining lights,
In the heavenly wilderness,
For a younger, ignoble world;
And renew, by necessity,
Night after night your courses,
In echoing, unneared silence,
Above a race you know not—
Uncaring and undelighted,
Without friend and without home;
Weary like us, though not
Weary with our weariness.
OH, unhappy stars! your fate I mourn,
Ye by whom the sea-toss'd sailor's lighted,
Who with radiant beams the heav'ns adorn,
But by gods and men are unrequited:
For ye love not,--ne'er have learnt to love!
Ceaselessly in endless dance ye move,
In the spacious sky your charms displaying,
What far travels ye have hasten'd through,
Since, within my loved one's arms delaying,
I've forgotten you and midnight too!
Night Piece, to Julia
Her eyes the glow-worm lend thee,
The shooting stars attend thee,
And the elves also,
Whose little eyes glow
Like sparks of fire befriend thee.
No will-o'th'-wisp mislight thee;
No snake or slow-worm bite thee;
But on, on thy way,
Not making a stay,
Since ghost there's none to affright thee.
Let not the dark thee cumber;
What through the moon does slumber;
The stars of the night
Will lend thee their light,
Like tapers clear without number.
Then, Julia, let me woo thee,
Thus, thus to come unto me:
And when I shall meet
Thy silv'ry feet,
My soul I'll pour into thee.
How many million galaxies there are
Who knows? and each has countless stars in it,
And each rolls through eternities afar
Beneath the threshold of the Infinite.
How is it that will all that space to roam
I should have found this mote that spins and leaps
In what unutterable sunlight, foam
Of what unfathomable starry deeps
Who knows!? And how this thousand million souls
And half a thousand million souls of earth
That swarm, all bound for unimagined goals,
All pioneers of death enrolled at birth,
How were they swept away before my sight,
That I might stand upon the single prick
Of infinite space and time as infinite,
Who knows? Yet here I stand, climacteric,
Having found you. Was it by fall of chance?
Then what a stake against what odds I have won!
Was it determined in God's ordinance?
Then wondrous love and pity for His son!
Or was it part of an eternal law?
Then how ineffably beneficent!
Each thought excites an ecstasy of awe,
A rapture rending the mind's firmament.
Infinity -yet you and I have met.
Eternity -yet hand in hand we run.
All odds that I should lose you or forget,
But, soul and spirit and body, we are one.
Is this the child of Chance, or Law, or Will?
Is None or All or One to thank for this?
It will not matter if thanksgiving fill
The endless empyrean with a kiss.
The Priestess of Panormita
Hear me, Lord of the Stars!
For thee I have worshipped ever
With stains and sorrows and scars,
With joyful, joyful endeavour.
Hear me, O lily-white goat!
O crisp as a thicket of thorns,
With a collar of gold for Thy throat,
A scarlet bow for Thy horns!
Here, in the dusty air,
I build Thee a shrine of yew.
All green is the garland I wear,
But I feed it with blood for dew!
After the orange bars
That ribbed the green west dying
Are dead, O Lord of the Stars,
I come to Thee, come to Thee crying.
The ambrosial moon that arose
With breasts slow heaving in splendour
Drops wine from her infinite snows.
Ineffably, utterly, tender.
O moon! ambrosial moon!
Arise on my desert of sorrow
That the Magical eyes of me swoon
With lust of rain to-morrow!
Ages and ages ago
I stood on the bank of a river
Holy and Holy and holy, I know,
For ever and ever and ever!
A priest in the mystical shrine
I muttered a redeless rune,
Till the waters were redder than wine
In the blush of the harlot moon.
I and my brother priests
Worshipped a wonderful woman
With a body lithe as a beast's
Subtly, horribly human.
Deep in the pit of her eyes
I saw the image of death,
And I drew the water of sighs
From the well of her lullaby breath.
She sitteth veiled for ever
Brooding over the waste.
She hath stirred or spoken never.
She is fiercely, manly chaste!
What madness made me awake
From the silence of utmost eld
The grey cold slime of the snake
That her poisonous body held?
By night I ravished a maid
From her father's camp to the cave.
I bared the beautiful blade;
I dipped her thrice i' the wave;
I slit her throat as a lamb's,
That the fount of blood leapt high
With my clamorous dithyrambs
Like a stain on the shield of the sky.
With blood and censer and song
I rent the mysterious veil:
My eyes gaze long and long
On the deep of that blissful bale.
My cold grey kisses awake
From the silence of utmost eld
The grey cold slime of the snake
That her beautiful body held.
But --- God! I was not content
With the blasphemous secret of years;
The veil is hardly rent
While the eyes rain stones for tears.
So I clung to the lips and laughed
As the storms of death abated,
The storms of the grevious graft
By the swing of her soul unsated.
Wherefore reborn as I am
By a stream profane and foul
In the reign of a Tortured Lamb,
In the realm of a sexless Owl,
I am set apart from the rest
By meed of the mystic rune
That reads in peril and pest
The ambrosial moon --- the moon!
For under the tawny star
That shines in the Bull above
I can rein the riotous car
Of galloping, galloping Love;
And straight to the steady ray
Of the Lion-heart Lord I career,
Pointing my flaming way
With the spasm of night for a spear!
O moon! O secret sweet!
Chalcedony clouds of caresses
About the flame of our feet,
The night of our terrible tresses!
Is it a wonder, then,
If the people are mad with blindness,
And nothing is stranger to men
Than silence, and wisdom, and kindness?
Nay! let him fashion an arrow
Whose heart is sober and stout!
Let him pierce his God to the marrow!
Let the soul of his God flow out!
Whether a snake or a sun
In his horoscope Heaven hath cast,
It is nothing; every one
Shall win to the moon at last.
The mage hath wrought by his art
A billion shapes in the sun.
Look through to the heart of his heart,
And the many are shapes of one!
An end to the art of the mage,
And the cold grey blank of the prison!
An end to the adamant age!
The ambrosial moon is arisen.
I have bought a lily-white goat
For the price of a crown of thorns,
A collar of gold for its throat,
A scarlet bow for its horns.
I have bought a lark in the lift
For the price of a butt of sherry:
With these, and God for a gift,
It needs no wine to be merry!
I have bought for a wafer of bread
A garden of poppies and clover;
For a water bitter and dead
A foam of fire flowing over.
From the Lamb and his prison fare
And the owl's blind stupor, arise
Be ye wise, and strong, and fair,
And the nectar afloat in your eyes!
Arise, O ambrosial moon
By the strong immemorial spell,
By the subtle veridical rune
That is mighty in heaven and hell!
Drip thy mystical dews
On the tongues of the tender fauns
In the shade of initiate yews
Remote from the desert dawns!
Satyrs and Fauns, I call.
Bring your beauty to man!
I am the mate for ye all'
I am the passionate Pan.
Come, O come to the dance
Leaping with wonderful whips,
Life on the stroke of a glance,
Death in the stroke of the lips!
I am hidden beyond,
Shed in a secret sinew
Smitten through by the fond
Folly of wisdom in you!
Come, while the moon (the moon!)
Sheds her ambrosial splendour,
Reels in the redeless rune
Ineffably, utterly, tender!
Hark! the appealing cry
Of deadly hurt in the hollow: ---
Hyacinth! Hyacinth! Ay!
Smitten to death by Apollo.
Swift, O maiden moon,
Send thy ray-dews after;
Turn the dolorous tune
To soft ambiguous laughter!
Mourn, O Maenads, mourn!
Surely your comfort is over:
All we laugh at you lorn.
Ours are the poppies and clover!
O that mouth and eyes,
Mischevious, male, alluring!
O that twitch of the thighs
Dorian past enduring!
Where is wisdom now?
Where the sage and his doubt?
Surely the sweat of the brow
Hath driven the demon out.
Surely the scented sleep
That crowns the equal war
Is wiser than only to weep ---
To weep for evermore!
Now, at the crown of the year,
The decadent days of October,
I come to thee, God, without fear;
Pious, chaste, and sober.
I solemnly sacrifice
This first-fruit flower of wine
For a vehicle of thy vice
As I am Thine to be mine.
For five in the year gone by
I pray Thee give to me one;
A love stronger than I,
A moon to swallow the sun!
May he be like a lily-white goat
Crisp as a thicket of thorns,
With a collar of gold for his throat,
A scarlet bow for his horns!
A November Night
There! See the line of lights,
A chain of stars down either side the street --
Why can't you lift the chain and give it to me,
A necklace for my throat? I'd twist it round
And you could play with it. You smile at me
As though I were a little dreamy child
Behind whose eyes the fairies live. . . . And see,
The people on the street look up at us
All envious. We are a king and queen,
Our royal carriage is a motor bus,
We watch our subjects with a haughty joy. . . .
How still you are! Have you been hard at work
And are you tired to-night? It is so long
Since I have seen you -- four whole days, I think.
My heart is crowded full of foolish thoughts
Like early flowers in an April meadow,
And I must give them to you, all of them,
Before they fade. The people I have met,
The play I saw, the trivial, shifting things
That loom too big or shrink too little, shadows
That hurry, gesturing along a wall,
Haunting or gay -- and yet they all grow real
And take their proper size here in my heart
When you have seen them. . . . There's the Plaza now,
A lake of light! To-night it almost seems
That all the lights are gathered in your eyes,
Drawn somehow toward you. See the open park
Lying below us with a million lamps
Scattered in wise disorder like the stars.
We look down on them as God must look down
On constellations floating under Him
Tangled in clouds. . . . Come, then, and let us walk
Since we have reached the park. It is our garden,
All black and blossomless this winter night,
But we bring April with us, you and I;
We set the whole world on the trail of spring.
I think that every path we ever took
Has marked our footprints in mysterious fire,
Delicate gold that only fairies see.
When they wake up at dawn in hollow tree-trunks
And come out on the drowsy park, they look
Along the empty paths and say, "Oh, here
They went, and here, and here, and here! Come, see,
Here is their bench, take hands and let us dance
About it in a windy ring and make
A circle round it only they can cross
When they come back again!" . . . Look at the lake --
Do you remember how we watched the swans
That night in late October while they slept?
Swans must have stately dreams, I think. But now
The lake bears only thin reflected lights
That shake a little. How I long to take
One from the cold black water -- new-made gold
To give you in your hand! And see, and see,
There is a star, deep in the lake, a star!
Oh, dimmer than a pearl -- if you stoop down
Your hand could almost reach it up to me. . . .
There was a new frail yellow moon to-night --
I wish you could have had it for a cup
With stars like dew to fill it to the brim. . . .
How cold it is! Even the lights are cold;
They have put shawls of fog around them, see!
What if the air should grow so dimly white
That we would lose our way along the paths
Made new by walls of moving mist receding
The more we follow. . . . What a silver night!
That was our bench the time you said to me
The long new poem -- but how different now,
How eerie with the curtain of the fog
Making it strange to all the friendly trees!
There is no wind, and yet great curving scrolls
Carve themselves, ever changing, in the mist.
Walk on a little, let me stand here watching
To see you, too, grown strange to me and far. . . .
I used to wonder how the park would be
If one night we could have it all alone --
No lovers with close arm-encircled waists
To whisper and break in upon our dreams.
And now we have it! Every wish comes true!
We are alone now in a fleecy world;
Even the stars have gone. We two alone!
Only on me, the lonely one,
The unending stars of the night shine,
The stone fountain whispers its magic song,
To me alone, to me the lonely one
The colorful shadows of the wandering clouds
Move like dreams over the open countryside.
Neither house nor farmland,
Neither forest nor hunting privilege is given to me,
What is mine belongs to no one,
The plunging brook behind the veil of the woods,
The frightening sea,
The bird whir of children at play,
The weeping and singing, lonely in the evening, of a man secretly in love.
The temples of the gods are mine also, and mine
the aristocratic groves of the past.
And no less, the luminous
Vault of heaven in the future is my home:
Often in full flight of longing my soul storms upward,
To gaze on the future of blessed men,
Love, overcoming the law, love from people to people.
I find them all again, nobly transformed:
Farmer, king, tradesman, busy sailors,
Shepherd and gardener, all of them
Gratefully celebrate the festival of the future world.
Only the poet is missing,
The lonely one who looks on,
The bearer of human longing, the pale image
Of whom the future, the fulfillment of the world
Has no further need. Many garlands
Wilt on his grave,
But no one remembers him.
You see many stars at night in the sky but find them not when the sun rises; can you say that there are no stars in the heaven of day? So, O man! because you behold not God in the days of your ignorance, say not that there is no God.Voltaire
The Jolly Company
The stars, a jolly company,
I envied, straying late and lonely;
And cried upon their revelry:
"O white companionship! You only
In love, in faith unbroken dwell,
Friends radiant and inseparable!"
Light-heart and glad they seemed to me
And merry comrades (EVEN SO
GOD OUT OF HEAVEN MAY LAUGH TO SEE
THE HAPPY CROWDS; AND NEVER KNOW
THAT IN HIS LONE OBSCURE DISTRESS
EACH WALKETH IN A WILDERNESS).
But I, remembering, pitied well
And loved them, who, with lonely light,
In empty infinite spaces dwell,
Disconsolate. For, all the night,
I heard the thin gnat-voices cry,
Star to faint star, across the sky.
The Sun and Moon must make their haste --
The Stars express around
For in the Zones of Paradise
The Lord alone is burned --
His Eye, it is the East and West --
The North and South when He
Do concentrate His Countenance
Like Glow Worms, flee away --
Oh Poor and Far --
Oh Hindred Eye
That hunted for the Day --
The Lord a Candle entertains
Entirely for Thee --
And The Moon And The Stars And The World
Long walks at night--
that's what good for the soul:
peeking into windows
watching tired housewives
trying to fight off
their beer-maddened husbands.
The rising moon has hid the stars;
Her level rays, like golden bars,
Lie on the landscape green,
With shadows brown between.
And silver white the river gleams,
As if Diana, in her dreams,
Had dropt her silver bow
Upon the meadows low.
On such a tranquil night as this,
She woke Endymion with a kiss,
When, sleeping in the grove,
He dreamed not of her love.
Like Dian's kiss, unasked, unsought,
Love gives itself, but is not bought;
Nor voice, nor sound betrays
Its deep, impassioned gaze.
It comes,--the beautiful, the free,
The crown of all humanity,--
In silence and alone
To seek the elected one.
It lifts the boughs, whose shadows deep
Are Life's oblivion, the soul's sleep,
And kisses the closed eyes
Of him, who slumbering lies.
O weary hearts! O slumbering eyes!
O drooping souls, whose destinies
Are fraught with fear and pain,
Ye shall be loved again!
No one is so accursed by fate,
No one so utterly desolate,
But some heart, though unknown,
Responds unto his own.
Responds,--as if with unseen wings,
An angel touched its quivering strings;
And whispers, in its song,
"'Where hast thou stayed so long?"
Unto whose use the pregnant suns are poised,
With idiot moons and stars retracting stars?
Creep thou between -- thy coming's all unnoised.
Heaven hath her high, as Earth her baser, wars.
Heir to these tumults, this affright, that fray
(By Adam's, fathers', own, sin bound alway);
Peer up, draw out thy horoscope and say
Which planet mends thy threadbare fate, or mars.
The mighty sound of forests murmuring
In answer to the dread command;
The stars that shudder when their king
extends his hand,
His awful hand to bless, to curse; or moves
Toward the dimmest den
In the thick leaves, not known of loves
Or nymphs or men;
(Only the sylph's frail gossamer may wave
Their quiet frondage yet,
Only her dewy tears may lave
The mighty answer of the shaken sky
To his supreme behest; the call
Of Ibex that behold on high
And see the pale moon quiver and depart
Far beyond space, the sun ascend
And draw earth's globe unto his heart
To make an end;
The shriek of startled birds; the sobs that tear
With sudden terror the sharp sea
That slept, and wove its golden hair
The rending of the earth at his command
Who wields the wrath of heaven, and is dumb;
Hell starts up - and before his hand
I heard these voices, and beheld afar
These dread works wrought at his behest:
And on his forehead, lo! a star,
And on his breast.
And on his feet I knew the sandals were
More beautiful than flame, and white,
And on the glory of his hair
The crown of night.
And I beheld his robe, and on its hem
Were writ unlawful words to say,
Broidered like lilies, with a gem
More clear than day.
And round him shone so wonderful a light
As when on Galilee
Jesus once walked, and clove the night,
And calmed the sea.
I scarce could see his features for the fire
That dwelt about his brow,
Yet, for the whiteness of my own desire,
I see him now;
Because my footsteps follow his, and tread
The awful bounds of heaven, and make
The very graves yield up their dead,
And high thrones shake;
Because my eyes still steadily behold
And dazzle not, nor shun the night,
The foam - born lamp of beaten gold
And secret might;
Because my forehead bears the sacred Name,
And my lips bear the brand
Of Him whose heaven is one flame,
Whose holy hand
Gathers this earth, who built the vaults of space,
Moulded the stars, and fixed the iron sea,
Because His love lights through my face
And all of me.
Because my hand may fasten on the sword
Of my heart falter not, and smite
Those lampless limits most abhorred
Of iron night,
And pass beyond their horror to attack
Fresh foemen, light and truth to bring
Through their untrodden fields of black,
A victor king.
I know all must be well, all must be free;
I know God as I know a friend;
I conquer, and most silently
Await the end.
I will mix me a drink of stars, --
Large stars with polychrome needles,
Small stars jetting maroon and crimson,
Cool, quiet, green stars.
I will tear them out of the sky,
And squeeze them over an old silver cup,
And I will pour the cold scorn of my Beloved into it,
So that my drink shall be bubbled with ice.
It will lap and scratch
As I swallow it down;
And I shall feel it as a serpent of fire,
Coiling and twisting in my belly.
His snortings will rise to my head,
And I shall be hot, and laugh,
Forgetting that I have ever known a woman.
Sonnet 14: Not from the stars do I my judgement pluck
Not from the stars do I my judgement pluck,
And yet methinks I have astronomy—
But not to tell of good or evil luck,
Of plagues, of dearths, or seasons' quality;
Nor can I fortune to brief minutes tell,
'Pointing to each his thunder, rain, and wind,
Or say with princes if it shall go well
By oft predict that I in heaven find.
But from thine eyes my knowledge I derive,
And, constant stars, in them I read such art
As truth and beauty shall together thrive
If from thy self to store thou wouldst convert;
Or else of thee this I prognosticate:
Thy end is truth's and beauty's doom and date.
The Giver of Stars
Hold your soul open for my welcoming.
Let the quiet of your spirit bathe me
With its clear and rippled coolness,
That, loose-limbed and weary, I find rest,
Outstretched upon your peace, as on a bed of ivory.
Let the flickering flame of your soul play all about me,
That into my limbs may come the keenness of fire,
The life and joy of tongues of flame,
And, going out from you, tightly strung and in tune,
I may rouse the blear-eyed world,
And pour into it the beauty which you have begotten.