“Twilight” by Nathaniel Parker Willis
Nathaniel Parker Willis
From Sketches by Nathaniel Parker Willis, 1827
‘——When the fretful stir
Unprofitable, and the fever of the world
Have hung upon the beatings of my heart.’
O TWILIGHT hour! who art so very cool
And balmy in the summer eventide,
With thy rich breathing quieting the winds,
And the uneasy waters; twilight hour!
Whose mantle is the drapery of dreams,
And who hast ever been in poetry
Life’s holy time; thou who wert wont to steal
Upon us, as thy sandals were of dew!
How sadly comes the rustle of thy step,
In the decaying season of the year!
My early fire is low, and hurrying feet
In the short pauses of the wind go by,
And the unquiet leaves, that sighingly
Obey its gusty summons and sweep on,
Seem mourning for the green and pleasant trees;
And the clouds wear sad colors, and I feel
As there were nothing in this fading world,
That is not cold and sorrowful like this.
Thus is it with a spirit not at ease.
It turns no eye within; but, as it were
The mirror of the world’s poor circumstance,
It takes its hue from nature, as if earth
With its discordant elements could tune
The delicate harmonies of human mind.
We have within us fountains, and they flow
With fancy to create the beautiful,
And thought to search out knowledge, and deep love
To link us to society; light mirth
To gladden, and kind sympathies to shade
The spirit; and yet many will go out
With a sealed bosom wandering the world,
To satisfy a thirst for happiness.
How strange it is, that when the principle
Of light is living in us, we should shut
Its emanations in, and darkly stray
To catch a beam from nature, like a star
That should forget its glory and go out,
Because the moon was shining not in heaven!