THE DAY is done, and the darkness
Falls from the wings of Night,
As a feather is wafted downward
From an eagle in his flight.
I see the lights of the village 5
Gleam through the rain and the mist,
And a feeling of sadness comes o’er me
That my soul cannot resist:
A feeling of sadness and longing,
That is not akin to pain, 10
And resembles sorrow only
As the mist resembles the rain.
Come, read to me some poem,
Some simple and heartfelt lay,
That shall soothe this restless feeling, 15
And banish the thoughts of day.
Not from the grand old masters,
Not from the bards sublime,
Whose distant footsteps echo
Through the corridors of Time. 20
For, like strains of martial music,
Their mighty thoughts suggest
Life’s endless toil and endeavor;
And to-night I long for rest.
Read from some humbler poet, 25
Whose songs gushed from his heart,
As showers from the clouds of summer,
Or tears from the eyelids start;
Who, through long days of labor,
And nights devoid of ease, 30
Still heard in his soul the music
Of wonderful melodies.
Such songs have power to quiet
The restless pulse of care,
And come like the benediction 35
That follows after prayer.
Then read from the treasured volume
The poem of thy choice,
And lend to the rhyme of the poet
The beauty of thy voice. 40
And the night shall be filled with music,
And the cares, that infest the day,
Shall fold their tents, like the Arabs,
And as silently steal away.
I’m always reaching for intangibles. What I can’t say, what I can’t know I discover in art and poetry. Now let me tell you a secret. I’m not a fan of 19th C anything, and especially not 19th C poetry. Give me the 17th, the 18th, and the 20th centuries (all right, I’ll add the 21st) any day. But occasionally, I’m surprised by a poem. This poem, by Longfellow, caught me unaware. My daughter read it for school and insisted I had to read it. To force her point, she left her literature book on the tiled kitchen counter, open to the spot. Finally, after cooking dinner and washing up, after making mixed drinks for my husband and parents, I read it.
Longfellow expressed, in this short poem, what I’ve been meaning to say for years. My daughter felt the same way about it and, poor thing, her assignment was to write a summary of it. How can anyone write a summary of a poem that expresses what the soul meant to say but never could? Answer that for me. Poor daughter, I forced her to comply with her assignment. Being forced to write down intangibles is beneficial, I think.
The painting, although of a lonesome desert scene without fog, expresses the same mystery. The painting is my dad’s. He is my favorite artist, after all. Find more of his work here: Wave Point Graphics (a title only an engineer could come up with). Sadly, he hasn’t posted images of his oil paintings as of yet. I ripped this image from his Facebook account.