Night on the mountain. Soon I may not see
The sharp and spreading map,
The chequer-world of man’s hard husbandry.
Comes white as wool the cloud veil that shall cap
The peak whereon I stand and stretch to thee.
Night on the mountain. Soft and silently
Out from their little dens the furred things creep:
They will not sleep
With valley-dwelling man, but wake to thee.
The fox from out its hole, the night bird from its nest,
I with the rest,
Yet not from any dear and hearted home
But from long exile come.
Long exile in the puzzling world, when all
Thy veils were close and bright
And picture set; yea, as a storied pall
Concealed thy night.
Long pilgrimage within the twisting lanes,
The deep and scented lanes, that wandered slow
Athwart the sleek profusion of the plains
But dared not seek
The solitary peaks
To which thy lovers go.
Now the old words that once were mine and thine
Come to the lips and echo in the ear,
Now the white cloud draws near
And stills the restless limbs and shuts the peering sight
From all thing save thy night–
The caverned door of our unshuttered shrine.
Strange, holy night, Eternity’s caress,
Most apt for happy lovers to enjoy;
Thou dost redeem the foolish dreams of men
Bewildered by the dreadful day’s employ.
How the white flowers upon thy breast do burn
And tell thy dark excesses. Thou dost turn
Each candid primrose to a moon of light;
Thou dost enchant the fingers of the fern
Stretched from the woodland to assoil our sight
From the sharp day’s distress.
When homely shapes pout on a priestly dress,
When from the dewy fields new presences arise
And grave trees standing there
Lift up great arms in prayer;
When the dim ground
Hath soft mysterious movements of desire
And every hill converses with the skies;
Our little star at home in heaven is found,
And we and it are gathered to thy heart.
Then muted adoration hat its part,
Then comes the hush of grace and wraps us round,
Then comes the flame of love and gives us of its fire.
Then, undistracted by the heady sun,
We are with thee as once ere all began,
Made partners with the ardent worlds that run
Across thy bosom’s span;
Knowing themselves to be
Radiant of love and light because they rest in thee.
Dear night, I love thee. Take me by the hand,
Make thou the ferment of my thought to cease.
Teach me thy wisdom. Let me understand
Thine unstruck music. Give my soul release
From the day’s glare and din.
Lift thou the latch, that I may push the gate
And let my Darling in.
He stands without, he wearies not to wait
Before my threshold till
Thou hast made all things proper to our state
And every voice is still.
Then thou and he shall enter side by side,
Thy banner shall be set above his bride,
The curtains of thy splendor shall be spread
About our marriage bed.
~ Evelyn Underhill