The myriads of mankind depart--they die,
They leave no vestige that they once have been,
But thou remain'st forever in the sky,
Renewing thy existence--night's fair queen!
The earth is old--her breast has lost its green,
Fresh robes of morning; temples fall with years;
But thou and thy companions still are seen;
Thy glorious sisterhood of living spheres,
They perish not--they wither not, with grief or tears.
I marvel not, when eyeing thy sublime
And beautiful effulgence on the sea,
That the lone star-read Chaldean of far time
Should thus have built his altar unto thee,
Bending on the high hills a patient knee;
For, oh! thou art a beauty in the sky,
A light, a glory, and a mystery,
Mantled in silver charms that cannot die,
And worship pour'd to thee was scarce idolatry.
Oft on the broad and pillar'd streets of Thebes
Thy beam has glitter'd, mantling many a pile
Which, when the ocean of the desert ebbs
And the sands shift, again may woo thy smile.
Time treads down empires; but thou stream'st the while
Over the hoary pyramids, as bright
As when the ancient dwellers of the Nile
Beheld thy beauty from each marble height,
And pour'd their prayers to thee in the lone hour of night.
Ay, thou wert worshipp'd in the Memphian halls,
A million priests to thee address'd their vow;
States sink, men perish, and old glory falls,
Religions change--where are thy votaries now?
The reverend heads, the mighty that did bow,
Sunk with their shatter'd obelisks, they rot
Among their stones and wild-weeds; not so thou,
Thy beauty flashes from thy starry grot
O'er those dark sepulchres, where empires lie forgot.
Thy mansion is all glory; thou dost rise,
And shine, and walk in beauty, in thy play
Wooing the bashful clouds with laughing eyes;
If they like sickness dim thy cheek--thy sway
Soon drives the blighting plague-spots far away,
Rushing betwixt them with thy silver wand;
In vain their gather'd masses round thee stray,
No wrinkles mar thy brow; Death's giant hand
Grasps nations; thou alone unsullied keep'st thy stand.
When thou art streaming o'er the pathless hills,
Nature seems feeling pleasure in the night,
Her old and wither'd bosom wildly thrills
As if a thousand dreams flash'd on her sight;
She drinks thy shining torrents with delight;
The ocean is thy vassal; thou canst hold
His million waves in all their savage might;
The sun is not thy father; thou hast roll'd
Ten thousand years through space, and yet thou art not old.
I loved thee, gentle moon! thou wert to me
Brother and sister and companion--all
My kin, while standing on the silent lea
I watch'd thy glory in the starry hall;
And thy white beams like shower of diamonds fall
Upon the azure desert; lovely light,
Sure thou wert fashion'd, when Sin's fatal pall
Was flung o'er earth, to welcome her flight
The lone and weary soul that journeys through the night.