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Hymn to Night

ISSUE:  Summer 1932

Now it grows dark.
Red goes Out of the rose;
Out of the lawn Green’s withdrawn;
Each buttercup now yields Its gold from blurring fields;
Larkspur and sky surrender Blue wonder.
We were dark within, we relied For our strength on the nourishing sun;
Now it is under and gone.
Now, as the light grows duller,
We, who had flourished on color,
Stand, in the ever-deepening shade,
Bereft, dismayed.
We were dark within, it was death
We saw, we had never seen
Within the dark, we had never known
The spark, the vital breath.
If only we had known
That black is neither loss nor lack
But holds the essential seed
Of mortal hope and need!
Now sheltering dusk,
Shepherd of color and light for dawns unending,
Tends the holy task.

Praise be to black, the benign,
No longer malign,
Prolonger of days! Praise the preserver of shine,
The keeper of blaze!
Praise Night,
Forever praise Savior Night,
Who surely stays The arm of time,
Who guards the flame,
Who hoards the light.
Praised be the Night.
ONCE every summer, in an emerald light,
I watch the little screech owls try their wings For the first time, between the dusk and night,
Eerie with quaverings.
But whence they come I never yet have known,
Save that the woods seem full of owlet doors,
And come they do, ubiquitously blown In twos and threes and fours,
Till suddenly I have become aware Of wizened faces, cowled heads awry,
And eyes that stare as only owlets stare Before they tilt and fly;
Leaving me there in darkness to surmise How well it goes with owlets in their flight,
And silent wings, and fixed nocturnal eyes Needing no outer light.
Leigh Hanes


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