Friday, April 12, 2013

Poems about Night: Playlist for April 5, 2013

Your Night Is of Lilac

By Mahmoud Darwish 1942–2008

Translated By Fady Joudah


The night sits wherever you are. Your night

is of lilac. Every now and then a gesture escapes

from the beam of your dimples, breaks the wineglass

and lights up the starlight. And your night is your shadow—

a fairy-tale piece of land to make our dreams

equal. I am not a traveler or a dweller

in your lilac night, I am he who was one day

me. Whenever night grew in you I guessed

the heart’s rank between two grades: neither

the self accepts, nor the soul accepts. But in our bodies

a heaven and an earth embrace. And all of you

is your night ... radiant night like planet ink. Night

is the covenant of night, crawling in my body

anesthetized like a fox’s sleepiness. Night diffusing a mystery

that illuminates my language, whenever it is clearer

I become more fearful of a tomorrow in the fist. Night

staring at itself safe and assured in its

endlessness, nothing celebrates it except its mirror

and the ancient shepherd songs in a summer of emperors

who get sick on love. Night that flourished in its Jahili poetry

on the whims of Imru’ el-Qyss and others,

and widened for the dreamers the milk path to a hungry

moon in the remoteness of speech ...

REFLECTIVE MUSIC: Incantations by Augusta Read Thomas

The Starry Night

By Anne Sexton 1928–1974

That does not keep me from having a terrible need of—shall I say the word—religion. Then I go out at night to paint the stars. -Vincent Van Gogh in a letter to his brother

The town does not exist

except where one black-haired tree slips

up like a drowned woman into the hot sky.

The town is silent. The night boils with eleven stars.  

Oh starry starry night! This is how

I want to die. 


It moves. They are all alive.

Even the moon bulges in its orange irons  

to push children, like a god, from its eye.

The old unseen serpent swallows up the stars.  

Oh starry starry night! This is how  

I want to die: 


into that rushing beast of the night,  

sucked up by that great dragon, to split  

from my life with no flag,
no belly,
no cry.
REFLECTIVE MUSIC: Piano Quintet in F minor by Cesar Franck (Finale)

A Nocturnal Reverie

By Anne Finch, Countess of Winchilsea 1661–1720

In such a night, when every louder wind

Is to its distant cavern safe confined;

And only gentle Zephyr fans his wings,

And lonely Philomel, still waking, sings;

Or from some tree, famed for the owl’s delight,

She, hollowing clear, directs the wand’rer right:

In such a night, when passing clouds give place,

Or thinly veil the heav’ns’ mysterious face;

When in some river, overhung with green,

The waving moon and the trembling leaves are seen;

When freshened grass now bears itself upright,

And makes cool banks to pleasing rest invite,

Whence springs the woodbind, and the bramble-rose,

And where the sleepy cowslip sheltered grows;

Whilst now a paler hue the foxglove takes,

Yet checkers still with red the dusky brakes

When scatter’d glow-worms, but in twilight fine,

Shew trivial beauties, watch their hour to shine;

Whilst Salisb’ry stands the test of every light,

In perfect charms, and perfect virtue bright:

When odors, which declined repelling day,

Through temp’rate air uninterrupted stray;

When darkened groves their softest shadows wear,

And falling waters we distinctly hear;

When through the gloom more venerable shows

Some ancient fabric, awful in repose,

While sunburnt hills their swarthy looks conceal,

And swelling haycocks thicken up the vale:

When the loosed horse now, as his pasture leads,

Comes slowly grazing through th’ adjoining meads,

Whose stealing pace, and lengthened shade we fear,

Till torn-up forage in his teeth we hear:

When nibbling sheep at large pursue their food,

And unmolested kine rechew the cud;

When curlews cry beneath the village walls,

And to her straggling brood the partridge calls;

Their shortlived jubilee the creatures keep,

Which but endures, whilst tyrant man does sleep;

When a sedate content the spirit feels,

And no fierce light disturbs, whilst it reveals;

But silent musings urge the mind to seek

Something, too high for syllables to speak;

Till the free soul to a composedness charmed,

Finding the elements of rage disarmed,

O’er all below a solemn quiet grown,

Joys in th’ inferior world, and thinks it like her own:

In such a night let me abroad remain,

Till morning breaks, and all’s confused again;

Our cares, our toils, our clamors are renewed,

Or pleasures, seldom reached, again pursued.   

REFLECTIVE MUSIC: Fantasia by William Byrd

Four Glimpses of Night

By Frank Marshall Davis 1905–1987



Like a woman hurrying to her lover

Night comes to the room of the world

And lies, yielding and content

Against the cool round face

Of the moon.



Night is a curious child, wandering

Between earth and sky, creeping

In windows and doors, daubing

The entire neighborhood

With purple paint.


Is an apologetic mother

Cloth in hand

Following after.




From door to door

Night sells

Black bags of peppermint stars

Heaping cones of vanilla moon


His wares are gone

Then shuffles homeward

Jingling the gray coins

Of daybreak.



Night’s brittle song, sliver-thin

Shatters into a billion fragments

Of quiet shadows

At the blaring jazz

Of a morning sun.
REFLECTIVE MUSIC: (not available)


By Michael Hofmann

It's all right  

Unless you're either lonely or under attack.  

That strange effortful

Repositioning of yourself. Laundry, shopping,  

Hours, the telephone—unless misinformed—

Only ever ringing for you, if it ever does.  

The night—yours to decide,

Among drink, or books, or lying there.

On your back, or curled up.
An embarrassment of poverty.
REFLECTIVE MUSIC: Nocturne in A-flat by Gabriel Faure




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