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WHY SHINE THE STARS?
Now came still evening on, and twilight grey
Had in her sober livery all things clad;
Silence accompanied; for beast and bird,
They to their grassy couch, these to their nests
Were slunk, all but the wakeful nightingale ;
She all night long her amorous descant sung;
Silence was pleased; now glowed the firmament
With living sapphires; Hesperus that led
The starry host, rode brightest, till the moon,
Rising in clouded majesty, at length
Apparent queen, unveiled her peerless light,
And o'er the dark her silver mantle threw.
"Sweet is the breath of morn, her rising sweet, With charm of earliest birds; pleasant the sun, When first on this delightful land he spreads His orient beams, on herb, tree, fruit and flower, Glistering with dew; fragrant the fertile earth After soft showers; and sweet the coming on Of grateful evening mild; then silent night, With this her solemn bird, and this fair moon, And these, the gems of heaven, her starry train. But wherefore all night long shine these? for whom This glorious sight, when sleep hath shut all eyes?"
To whom our general ancestor replied;
Daughter of God and man, accomplished Eve, These have their course to finish round the earth
By morrow evening, and from land to land
In order, though to nations yet unborn,
Ministering light prepared, they set and rise;
Lest total darkness should by night regain
Her old possession, and extinguish life
In nature and all things; which these soft fires
Not only enlighten, but with kindly heat
Of various influence, foment and warm,
Temper or nourish, or in part shed down
Their stellar virtue on all kinds that grow
On earth, made hereby apter to receive
Perfection from the sun's more potent ray.
These then, though unbeheld in deep of night,
Shine not in vain; nor think, tho' men were none,
That heaven would want spectators, God want
Millions of spiritual creatures walk the earth
Unseen, both when we wake, and when we sleep;
All these, with ceaseless praise his works behold
Both day and night. How often from the steep
Of echoing hill or thicket have we heard
Celestial voices to the midnight air,
Sole, or responsive each to other's note,
Singing their great Creator! oft in bands
While they keep watch, or nightly rounding walk,
With heavenly touch of instrumental sounds
In full harmonic number joined, their songs
Divide the night, and lift our thoughts to Heaven."
WHEN I consider how my life is spent
Ere half my days, in this dark world and wide, And that one talent, which is death to hide, Lodged with me useless, though my soul more bent To serve therewith my Maker, and present My true account, lest he returning chide; Doth God exact day-labor, light denied? I fondly ask; but patience, to prevent That murmur, soon replies, God doth need
Either man's work or his own gift; who best Bear his mild yoke, they serve him best; his state Is kingly; thousands at His bidding speed,
And post o'er land and ocean without rest; They also serve who only stand and wait.
THE Frost looked forth, one still, clear night,
And whispered, "Now I shall be out of sight;
So through the valley and over the height
In silence I'll take my way;
I will not go like that blustering train,
The wind and the snow, the hail and the rain,
Who make so much bustle and noise in vain :
But I'll be as busy as they.
Then he flew to the mountain, and powdered its crest;
He lit on the trees, and their boughs he drest
In diamond beads; and over the breast
Of the quivering lake, he spread
A coat of mail, that it need not fear
The downward point of many a spear,
That he hung on its margin, far and near,
Where a rock could rear its head.
He went to the windows of those who slept,
And over each pane, like a fairy, crept;
Wherever he breathed, wherever he stopped,
By the light of the moon were seen
Most beautiful things; there were flowers and trees;
There were bevies of birds and swarms of bees;
There were cities with temples and towers; and
All pictured in silver sheen.
But he did one thing that was hardly fair;
He peeped in the cupboard, and finding there
That all had forgotten for him to prepare,
Now just to set them a-thinking,
I'll bite this basket of fruit," said he,
"This costly pitcher I'll burst in three ;
And the glass of water they 've left for me
Say 'tchick!' to tell them I'm drinking!
THE spacious firmament on high,
With all the blue ethereal sky,
And spangled heavens, a shining frame,
Their great Original proclaim;
The unwearied sun, from day to day,
Does his Creator's power display,
And publishes to every land
The work of an Almighty Hand.
Soon as the evening shades prevail,
The moon takes up the wondrous tale,
And nightly to the listening earth
Repeats the story of her birth;
While all the stars that round her burn,
And all the planets in their turn,
Confirm the tidings as they roll,
And spread the truth from pole to pole.
What though in solemn silence all
Move round this dark terrestrial ball!
What though no real voice, nor sound
Amid their radiant orbs be found!
In reason's ear they all rejoice,
And utter forth a glorious voice,
For ever singing, as they shine,
"The Hand that made us is divine."