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“The light of the day takes refuge in their bosoms,” as the Purana says of the ocean. A distant cliff looks like a phosphorescent space on a hillside. These small fractions of her light remind one of the plant called moon-seed — as if the moon were sowing it in such places.In the night the eyes are partly closed or retire into the head. The walker is guided as well by the sense of smell.Small trees and shrubs are seen in the midst, overwhelmed as by an inundation.
“The moon gravitates toward the earth, and the earth reciprocally toward the moon.” The poet who walks by moonlight is conscious of a tide in his thought which is to be referred to lunar influence.
I will endeavor to separate the tide in my thoughts from the current distractions of the day.
The slightest irregularities in the ground are revealed by the shadows, and what the feet find comparatively smooth, appears rough and diversified in consequence.
For the same reason the whole landscape is more variegated and picturesque than by day.
* * * They seldom go abroad in the daytime, the sun being disagreeable to them, and causing their eyes, which are weak and poring, to water, especially if it shines towards them, yet they see very well by moonlight, from which we call them moon-eyed.” Neither in our thoughts in these moonlight walks, methinks, is there “the least tincture of a blush or sanguine complexion,” but we are intellectually and morally Albinoes — children of Endymion — such is the effect of conversing much with the moon. About ten o’clock — when man is asleep, and day fairly forgotten — the beauty of moonlight is seen over lonely pastures where cattle are silently feeding. Instead of the sun there are the moon and stars, instead of the wood-thrush there is the whip-poor-will — instead of butterflies in the meadows, fire-flies, winged sparks of fire! What kind of cool deliberate life dwells in those dewy abodes associated with a spark of fire? Instead of singing birds, the half-throttled note of a cuckoo flying over, the croaking of frogs, and the intenser dream of crickets.
Essay On Moonlit Night
I complain of Arctic voyagers that, they do not enough remind us of the constant peculiar dreariness of the scenery, and the perpetual twilight of the Arctic night. But above all, the wonderful trump of the bull-frog, ringing from Maine to Georgia.The smallest recesses in the rocks are dim and cavernous; the ferns in the wood appear of tropical size.The sweet fern and indigo in overgrown wood-paths wet you with dew up to your middle.Are we not tempted to explore it — to penetrate to the shores of its lake Tchad, and discover the source of its Nile, perchance the Mountains of the Moon?Who knows what fertility and beauty, moral and natural, are there to be found?I would warn my hearers that they must not try my thoughts by a daylight standard, but endeavor to realize that I speak out of the night. In Drake’s “Collection of Voyages,” Wafer says of some Albinoes among the Indians of Darien, “They are quite white, but their whiteness is like that of a horse, quite different from the fair or pale European, as they have not the least tincture of a blush or sanguine complexion.* * * Their eyebrows are milk-white, as is likewise the hair of their heads, which is very fine.I shall be a benefactor if I conquer some realms from the night, if I report to the gazettes anything transpiring about us at that season worthy of their attention — if I can show men that there is some beauty awake while they are asleep — if I add to the domains of poetry.Night is certainly more novel and less profane than day. Chalmers who said, criticising Coleridge, that for his part he wanted ideas which he could see all round, and not such as he must look at away up in the heavens.In the Mountains of the Moon, in the Central Africa of the night, there is where all Niles have their hidden heads.The expeditions up the Nile as yet extend but to the Cataracts, or perchance to the mouth of the White Nile; but it is the Black Nile that concerns us.