Hymn to the Night

Original Text: 
The Poetical Works of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, with Bibliographical and Critical Notes, Riverside Edition (Boston and New York: Houghton, Mifflin, 1890), I, 19-20. PS 2250 E90 Robarts Library.
Aspasie, trillistos.
2    Sweep through her marble halls!
3I saw her sable skirts all fringed with light
4    From the celestial walls!
5I felt her presence, by its spell of might,
6    Stoop o'er me from above;
7The calm, majestic presence of the Night,
8    As of the one I love.
9I heard the sounds of sorrow and delight,
10    The manifold, soft chimes,
11That fill the haunted chambers of the Night,
12    Like some old poet's rhymes.
13From the cool cisterns of the midnight air
14    My spirit drank repose;
15The fountain of perpetual peace flows there, --
16    From those deep cisterns flows.
17O holy Night! from thee I learn to bear
18    What man has borne before!
19Thou layest thy finger on the lips of Care,
20    And they complain no more.
22    Descend with broad-winged flight,
23The welcome, the thrice-prayed for, the most fair,
24    The best-beloved Night!


1] "Composed in the summer of 1839 `while sitting at my chamber window, on one of the balmiest nights of the year. I endeavored to reproduce the impression of the hour and scene.'" (Editor, p. 19.)
The epigraph comes from Homer's Iliad, VIII, 488: "Welcome, three times prayed for." Back to Line
21] Orestes-like: Orestes killed his mother Clytemnestra to take revenge for the murder of her husband Agamemnon, which she managed with the help of her lover Aegisthus. In Aeschylus' Eumenides, Orestes finds the peace Longfellow mentions here. Back to Line
Publication Start Year: 
Publication Notes: 
In Voices of the Night
RPO poem Editors: 
Ian Lancashire
RPO Edition: 
RPO 1998.