John Freeman

(1880-1929 / England)

Nightfall - Poem by John Freeman


Eve goes slowly
Dancing lightly
Clad with shadow up the hills;
Birds their singing
Cease at last, and silence
Falling like fine rain the valley fills.

Not a bat's cry
Stirs the stillness
Perfect as broad water sleeping,
Not a moth's wings
Flit in the gathering darkness,
Not a mouselike moonray ev'n comes creeping.

Then a light shines
From the casement,
Wreathed with jasmine boughs and stars,
Palely golden
As the late eve's primrose,
Glimmers through green leafy prison bars.


Only joy now
Come in silence,
Come before your look's forgot;
Come and hearken
While the lonely shadow
Broadens on the hill and then is not.

Now the hour is,
Here the place is,
Here am I who saw thee here.
Evening darkens
All is still and marvellous,
Now the sharp stars in the deep sky peer.

Come and fill me
As the wind fills
Leafy wide boughs of a tree;
Come and windlike
Cleanse my slumbrous branches,
Come and moonlike bathe the leaves of me.


Eve has gone and
Night follows,
Every bush is now a ghost;
Every tree looms
Lofty large and sombre;
All day's simple friendliness is lost.

See the poplars
Black in blackness,
In all their leaves there is no sigh.
'Neath that darkling
Cedar who dare wander
Now, or under the vast oak would lie!...

Till that tingling
Silence broken
Every clod renews its breath;
Birds, leaves, grasses
Heave as one, then sleep on
Full of sweeter sleep and unlike death.


Only joy now
Come like music
Falling clear from strings of light;
Come like shadow
Drinking up late sunrays,
Come like moonrays sweeping the round night.

See how night is
Opening flowerlike:
Open so thy bosom to me.
See how earth falls
Easeful into silence:
Let my moth-wing'd thought so fall on thee.

While the lamp's beam
Primrose golden
Now is like a shifting spear
Borne in battle,
Seen awhile then hidden,
Bold then beaten--now long lost, and here!

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Poem Submitted: Friday, September 24, 2010

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