Before I Had Fed Modestine And
Arranged My Sack, Three Stars Were Already Brightly Shining, And The
Others Were Beginning Dimly To Appear.
I slipped down to the river,
which looked very black among its rocks, to fill my can; and dined with a
good appetite in the dark, for I scrupled to light a lantern while so
near a house.
The moon, which I had seen a pallid crescent all
afternoon, faintly illuminated the summit of the hills, but not a ray
fell into the bottom of the glen where I was lying. The oak rose before
me like a pillar of darkness; and overhead the heartsome stars were set
in the face of the night. No one knows the stars who has not slept, as
the French happily put it, a la belle etoile. He may know all their
names and distances and magnitudes, and yet be ignorant of what alone
concerns mankind, - their serene and gladsome influence on the mind. The
greater part of poetry is about the stars; and very justly, for they are
themselves the most classical of poets. These same far-away worlds,
sprinkled like tapers or shaken together like a diamond dust upon the
sky, had looked not otherwise to Roland or Cavalier, when, in the words
of the latter, they had 'no other tent but the sky, and no other bed than
my mother earth.'
All night a strong wind blew up the valley, and the acorns fell pattering
over me from the oak.
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