The City of Dreadful Night


How the moon triumphs through the endless nights!

How the stars throb and glitter as they wheel Their thick processions of supernal lights Around the blue vault obdurate as steel!

And men regard with passionate awe and yearning 5The mighty marching and the golden burning, And think the heavens respond to what they feel.

Boats gliding like dark shadows of a dream Are glorified from vision as they pass The quivering moonbridge on the deep black stream; 10Cold windows kindle their dead glooms of glass To restless crystals; cornice dome and column Emerge from chaos in the splendour solemn;Like faery lakes gleam lawns of dewy grass.

With such a living light these dead eyes shine, 15These eyes of sightless heaven, that as we gaze We read a pity, tremulous, divine, Or cold majestic scorn in their pure rays:

Fond man! they are not haughty, are not tender;There is no heart or mind in all their splendour, 20They thread mere puppets all their marvellous maze.

If we could near them with the flight unflown, We should but find them worlds as sad as this, Or suns all self-consuming like our own Enringed by planet worlds as much amiss: 25They wax and wane through fusion and confusion;The spheres eternal are a grand illusion, The empyrean is a void abyss.

Rudyard Kipling