The House of Night

Her sable robes the gloaming trails
   From golden strand to purple height,
And softly, over the welds and dales,
   Into the vacant House of Night.

But lo, where first her footsteps mark
   The sunset's last extinguished pyre,—
Above the hills,—a saffron spark,
   A gleam of unconjectured fire.

Between the foliaged zone and sky,
   Where sentries of the forest stand,
It peeps and flits—a firefly;
   It soars and glows—a firebrand.

A sacred flame from hemlock shades,
   Rising like a mystic sign
Above the silence of the glades
   Into the solitudes divine.

A sign perchance from those who pass
   To those who follow in the gloom,
Dancing round a moulten mass
   Above the grudging gulfs of doom.

A new-born world, though years untold
   Have fed the forge that gave it breath,
Where life still casts of beaten gold
   Cressets for the shrine of Death.

A dying world, though like a gem
   Of sapphire hues in nacre bright,
Drop from the zone or diadem
   Of the immortal queen of night.

A world! From depths to heights as dark
   It leaps anon into the dance
And whirls away—’t is but a spark
   From the anvil of the God of Chance,

But Faith and Fancy often mar
   The mystery of things divine;
For that which is a rolling star
   Was fluttering neath a lonely pine.

And lo, another orb doth roll
   Above the groves where once it trod;
And still another seeks its goal
   In the infinities of God.

From where the eagle marks his flight,
   Across the void that earth-bound seems,
They twinkle forth, a circle of light,
   Around the Gloaming's couch of dreams.

And thus they first themselves disguise
   As glow worms in the gathering gloom,
And suddenly refulgent rise
   O'er the abysmal tracks of doom.

For aeons thus, from hill to sea,
   Athwart the grudging gulfs they glow;
And waning tell of the worlds that be
   And the ghosts of worlds of long ago.

For aeons thus, their torches high,
   The gods unseen—as when the light
Of day conceals the starry sky—
   Illuminate the House of Night.


From A Chant of Mystics (James T. White & Co., 1921) by Ameen Rihani. This poem is in the public domain.