And I was very blest —
Shall it not be for Memory
A happy spot to rest?
Yes; there are in the backward past
Soft hours to which we turn —
Hours which, at distance, mildly shine,
Shine on, but never burn.
And some of these but yesternight
Across my path were thrown,
Which made my heart so very light,
I think it could have flown.
I had been out to see a friend
With whom I others saw:
Like minds to like minds ever tend —
An universal law.
And when we were returning home,
"Come who will walk with me,
A little way", I said, and lo!
I straight was joined by three:
Three whom I loved — two had high thoughts
And were, in age, my peers;
And one was young, but oh! endeared
As much as youth endears.
The moon stood silent in the sky,
And looked upon our earth:
The clouds divided, passing by,
In homage to her worth.
There was a dance among the leaves
Rejoicing at her power,
Who robes for them of silver weaves
Within one mystic hour.
There was a song among the winds,
Hymning her influence —
That low-breathed minstrelsy which binds
The soul to thought intense.
And there was something in the night
That with its magic wound us;
For we — oh! we not only saw,
But felt the moonlight around us.
How vague are all the mysteries
Which bind us to our earth;
How far they send into the heart
Their tones of holy mirth;
How lovely are the phantoms dim
Which bless that better sight,
That man enjoys when proud he stands
In his own spirit's light;
When, like a thing that is not ours.
This earthliness goes by,
And we behold the spiritualness
Of all that cannot die.
'Tis then we understand the voice
Which in the night-wind sings,
And feel the mystic melody
Played on the forest's strings.
The silken language of the stars
Becomes the tongue we speak,
And then we read the sympathy
That pales the young moon's cheek.
The inward eye is open then
To glories, which in dreams
Visit the sleeper's couch, in robes
Woven of the rainbow's beams.
I bless my nature that I am
Allied to all the bliss,
Which other worlds we're told afford,
But which I find in this.
My heart is bettered when I feel
That even this human heart
To all around is gently bound,
And forms of all a part;
That, cold and lifeless as they seem,
The flowers, the stars, the sky
Have more than common minds may deem
To stir our sympathy.
Oh! in such moments can I crush
The grass beneath my feet?
Ah no; the grass has then a voice,
Its heart — I hear it beat.
In the poem, ‘A Walk by Moonlight’, Derozio not only recounts an experience but also vividly describes the effect of such an experience on his mind and heart. The effect is profound and mind blowing, and the experience radically changes his perception. He relates about his walk back home on a moonlit night with his friends whom he ‘loved’ and esteemed and who were like-minded.
The poet was returning home one night with three of his friends after visiting another friend. The night was a ‘lovely night’ for the ‘moon stood silent in the sky’ and the ‘clouds divided’ ‘in homage to her worth’. She robed the dancing leaves with ‘silver weaves’. The poet feels that such a night was one of those ‘happy spots’ of memory of his past which never burns or fades away but shines on gently.
The poet gradually moves from the physical description of night to what the scene does to him. The ‘song among the winds’ made the poet focus his thoughts. The night created magic around them. They not only ‘saw’ with their eyes but ‘felt’ with all their senses the beautiful moon lit night. In this mood, the mystery of life was heightened and it evoked in their hearts awe and ‘holy mirth’. The scene brought about a mood which in turn made the poet’s mind alert and awake. Such a mind, the poet thinks, is a ‘light’ to itself. It perceives better and everything looks lovely. In such a state one apprehends the ‘ spiritualness’ or the permanence of ‘all that cannot die’ going beyond the ‘earthiness’ of the world of impermanent matter.
The poet then views nature – night wind, stars, the moon – not as inanimate but as full of life. Such a state has his ‘inward eye’ open to glories that seem to appear only in dreams. The bliss of heaven is experienced here on earth by the poet. The peak of perception that the poet arrives at is when he feels his human heart ‘gently bound’ to everything and forming ‘of all a part’ which in other words is communion and interconnectedness with the whole of nature. The flowers, the stars and the sky are then not ‘cold and lifeless as they seem’.
The poet reaches a climax in his experience which is expressed in the last stanza. In that moment of deep spiritual insight and heightened sensitivity, the poet feels that he cannot ‘crush’ the grass beneath his feet for he can ‘hear’ its heart ‘beat’.
The rhyme and the meter make the poem flow smoothly enhancing the theme of physical beauty of a moonlit night and its soothing, and spiritual and psychological effect on the poet’s soul.
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