Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE NIGHT HAWK, by DAVID MACBETH MOIR

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Classic and Contemporary Poetry

THE NIGHT HAWK, by                     Poet's Biography
First Line: The winds are pillow'd on the waveless deep
Last Line: In viewless robe, shall sit enthroned on smoking hills.
Alternate Author Name(s): Delta
Subject(s): Animals; Birds; Hawks; Sky; Wings

Vox, et præterea nihil.


THE winds are pillow'd on the waveless deep,
And from the curtain'd sky the midnight moon
Looks sombred o'er the forest depths, that sleep
Unstirring, while a soft melodious tune,
Nature's own voice, the lapsing stream, is heard,
And ever and anon th' unseen, night-wandering bird.


An Arab of the air, it floats along,
Enamour'd of the silence and the night,
The tall pine-tops, the mountains dim among,
Aye wheeling on in solitary flight;
Like an ungentle spirit earthwards sent,
To haunt the pale-faced moon, a cheerless banishment.


A lone, low sound—a melancholy cry,
Now near, remoter now, and more remote;
In the blue dusk, unseen, it journeys by,
Loving amid the starlight-calm to float;
Now sharp and shrill, now faint; and by degrees
Fainter, like summer winds that die 'mid leafy trees.


Listening, in the blue solitude I stand—
The breathless hush of midnight—all is still;
Unmoved the valleys spread, the woods expand;
There is a slumbering mist upon the hill;
Nature through all her regions seems asleep,
Save, ever and anon, that sound so wild and deep.


Moonlight and midnight! all so vast and void,
Life seems a vision of the shadowy past,
By mighty silence swallow'd and destroy'd,
And Thou of living things the dirge and last:
Such quietude enwraps the moveless scene,
As if, all discord o'er, Mankind had never been.


Doubtless in elder times, unhallow'd sound,
When Fancy ruled the subject realms, and Fear,
Some demon elf, or goblin shrieking round,
Darkly thou smot'st on Superstition's ear:
The wild wood had its spirits, and the glen
Swarm'd with dim shapes and shades inimical to Men.


Then Fairies tripp'd it in the hazel glade;
And Fahm stalk'd muttering thro' the cavern's gloom;
And corpse-fires, glancing thro' the yew-trees' shade,
Lighted each sheeted spectre from its tomb;
While Morning show'd, in nature's grassy death,
Where the Foul Fiend had danced with Witches on the heath.


On Summer's scented eve, when fulgent skies
The last bright traces of the day partook,
And heaven look'd down on earth with starry eyes,
Reflected softly in the wimpling brook,
Far, far above, wild solitary bird,
Thy melancholy scream 'mid woodlands I have heard;


And I have heard thee, when December's snow
Mantled with chilling white the moonless vales,
Thro' the drear darkness, wandering to and fro,
And mingling with the sharp and sighing gales
Thy wizard note—when Nature's prostrate form,
In desolation sad, lay buried in the storm.


It is a sound most solemn, strange, and lone,
That wildly talks of something far remote
Amid the past—of something dimly known—
Of Time's primeval voice, a parted note—
The echo of Antiquity—the cry
Of Ruin, fluttering o'er some Greatness doom'd to die.


So parted from communion with mankind,
So sever'd from all life, and living sound,
Calmly the solemnised and soften'd mind
Sinks down, and dwells, in solemn thought profound,
On dreams of yore, on visions swept away—
The loves and friendships warm of being's early day.


Lov'st Thou, when storms are dark, and rains come down,
When wild winds round lone dwellings moan and sigh,
And Night is hooded in its gloomiest frown,
To mingle with the tempest thy shrill cry,
To pierce the rolling thunder-clouds, and brook
The scythe-wing'd lightning's glare with fierce unshrinking look?


Most lonely voice! most wild unbodied scream!
Aye haunting thus the sylvan wilderness,
Thou tellest man that life is but a dream,
Romantic as the tones of thy distress,
Leaving on earth no lingering trace behind,
And melting as thou meltest on the trackless wind.


Faint come the notes: Thou meltest distant far,
Scarce heard at intervals upon the night,
Leaving to loneliness each listening star,
The trees, the river, and the moonshine bright;
And, 'mid this stirless hush, this still of death,
Heard is my bosom's throb, and audible my breath.


Thus wane the noonday dreams of Youth away,
And twilight hues the path of Life pervade;
Thus, like the western sunlight, ray by ray,
Into the darkness of old age we fade;
While of our early friends the memories seem
Half lost in bygone years, like fragments of a dream.


Lo! 'mid the future dim, remote or near,
Lurks in the womb of Time a final day,
When shuddering Earth a trumpet voice shall hear,
And ruin seize the Universe for prey;
And Silence, as the pulse of Nature stills,
In viewless robe, shall sit enthroned on smoking hills.

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