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The Constellations

 O constellations of the early night, 
That sparkled brighter as the twilight died, 
And made the darkness glorious! I have seen 
Your rays grow dim upon the horizon's edge, 
And sink behind the mountains.
I have seen The great Orion, with his jewelled belt, That large-limbed warrior of the skies, go down Into the gloom.
Beside him sank a crowd Of shining ones.
I look in vain to find The group of sister-stars, which mothers love To show their wondering babes, the gentle Seven.
Along the desert space mine eyes in vain Seek the resplendent cressets which the Twins Uplifted in their ever-youthful hands.
The streaming tresses of the Egyptian Queen Spangle the heavens no more.
The Virgin trails No more her glittering garments through the blue.
Gone! all are gone! and the forsaken Night, With all her winds, in all her dreary wastes, Sighs that they shine upon her face no more.
No only here and there a little star Looks forth alone.
Ah me! I know them not, Those dim successors of the numberless host That filled the heavenly fields, and flung to earth Their guivering fires.
And now the middle watch Betwixt the eve and morn is past, and still The darkness gains upon the sky, and still It closes round my way.
Shall, then, the Night, Grow starless in her later hours? Have these No train of flaming watchers, that shall mark Their coming and farewell? O Sons of Light! Have ye then left me ere the dawn of day To grope along my journey sad and faint? Thus I complained, and from the darkness round A voice replied--was it indeed a voice, Or seeming accents of a waking dream Heard by the inner ear? But thus it said: O Traveller of the Night! thine eyes are dim With watching; and the mists, that chill the vale Down which thy feet are passing, hide from view The ever-burning stars.
It is thy sight That is so dark, and not the heaens.
Thine eyes, Were they but clear, would see a fiery host Above thee; Hercules, with flashing mace, The Lyre with silver cords, the Swan uppoised On gleaming wings, the Dolphin gliding on With glistening scales, and that poetic steed, With beamy mane, whose hoof struck out from earth The fount of Hippocrene, and many more, Fair clustered splendors, with whose rays the Night Shall close her march in glory, ere she yield, To the young Day, the great earth steeped in dew.
So spake the monitor, and I perceived How vain were my repinings, and my thought Went backward to the vanished years and all The good and great who came and passed with them, And knew that ever would the years to come Bring with them, in their course, the good and great, Lights of the world, though, to my clouded sight, Their rays might seem but dim, or reach me not.

Poem by William Cullen Bryant
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