To the Night

by PERCY BYSSHE SHELLEY (1792-1822)

Swiftly walk o’er the western wave,
Spirit of Night!
Out of the misty eastern cave,
Where, all the long and lone daylight,
Thou wovest dreams of joy and fear,
Which make thee terrible and dear,—
Swift be thy flight!

Wrap thy form in a mantle gray,
Star-inwrought!
Blind with thine hair the eyes of Day;
Kiss her until she be wearied out,
Then wander o’er city, and sea, and land,
Touching all with thine opiate wand?
Come, long-sought!

When I arose and saw the dawn,
I sighed for thee;
When the light rode high, and the dew was gone,
And noon lay heavy on flower and tree,
And the weary Day turned to his rest,
Lingering like an unloved guest,
I sighed for thee.

Thy brother Death came, and cried,
Wouldst thou me?
Thy sweet child Sleep, the filmy-eyed,
Murmured like a noontide bee,
Shall I nestle near thy side?
Wouldst thou me?—And I replied,
No, not thee!

Death will come when thou art dead,
Soon, too soon—
Sleep will come when thou art fled;
Of neither would I ask the boon
I ask of thee, belovèd Night—
Swift be thine approaching flight,
Come soon, soon!

Percy Bysshe Shelley

English Romantic poet Shelley rebelled against English politics and conservative values. If that wasn’t enough to make him unpopular, he was believed to be both an atheist and immoral, and he didn’t do much to contradict that when he left his young wife, Harriet to take up with Mary Godwin. That created such scandalous rumors, to this day, the truth remains a mystery. You can read a very passionate defense of Harriet Shelley here.

Percy Bysshe Shelley Contemporaries
Heinrich Heine
Thomas Love Peacock
John Keats
Samuel Lover

Share