I leaped quickly through the opening into the starlight of a clear Arizona night. The crisp, fresh mountain air outside the cave acted as an immediate tonic and I felt new life and new courage coursing through me… I lifted my head to fill my lungs with the pure, invigorating night air of the mountains. ~Edgar Rice Burroughs, A Princess of Mars, 1917
I saw stretching far below me the beautiful vista of rocky gorge, and level, cacti-studded flat, wrought by the moonlight into a miracle of soft splendor and wondrous enchantment. Few western wonders are more inspiring than the beauties of an Arizona moonlit landscape; the silvered mountains in the distance, the strange lights and shadows upon hog back and arroyo, and the grotesque details of the stiff, yet beautiful cacti form a picture at once enchanting and inspiring; as though one were catching for the first time a glimpse of some dead and forgotten world, so different is it from the aspect of any other spot upon our earth. ~Edgar Rice Burroughs, A Princess of Mars, 1917
There’s magic in a desert night
When stars fall down to human height;
I filled my pockets, filled my hands,
And more stars fell upon the sands.
The gentle breeze that shook the sky
Sent starry windfalls sailing by,
And whirlwinds scuffling on the ground,
Kicked stars into a silver mound.
Despite this bounty in my clutch,
Millions more were there to touch —
The desert night must play a trick,
Hanging stars low down to pick!
~Lenore Eversole Fisher, “Desert Harvest,” in Arizona Highways, February 1965
How far away
are the countless stars
which softly light
the clear desert night?
Just stand on tiptoe,
for it’s easy, you know,
to gather an armful,
~Florence M. Emmons, “Desert Stars,” in Arizona Highways, November 1970
Tell me: have you ever seen stars in a more black-velvety sky, or seen them so large, vivid and intense? ~George Wharton James, Arizona, the Wonderland, 1917
Colors of dusk
sweep down in tender shades
to smooth the desert’s
seared and weary face.
A vagrant breeze
touching the sage and cactus
to muted music tones.
Hushed sounds and moonglow
relax the tired desert,
and shimmering peace walks tall
in soft-soled sandals.
~Violet G. Leighty, “To a Desert Night,” in Arizona Highways, February 1971
It was another one of those dry, windy nights that defy description. The air is restless and the trees start whispering secrets to each other. A discomforting reminder of the desert that sprawled here before the city was built — it makes the world ephemeral and temporary, as if by morning all this will be dust again. ~David Gerrold, The Martian Child, 2002
The cold, clear, silent night brought back the charm of the desert. How flaming white the stars! The great spire-pointed peaks lifted cold pale-gray outlines up into the deep star-studded sky. ~Zane Grey, The Call of the Canyon, 1924
For all the toll the desert takes of a man it gives compensations, deep breaths, deep sleep, and the communion of the stars. ~Mary Austin, “A Land of Little Rain,” in The Atlantic Monthly, January 1903