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Quotations about the
Night Sky, Moon, & Stars



SEE ALSO:  SUNRISE & SUNSET LIGHT POLLUTION & DARK SKIES NIGHTTIME SCORPIUS CONSTELLATION MOON & SEASONS FIREFLIES NATURE SKY WEATHER FIREWORKS ASTROLOGY


The moon will rise and you will brood
Upon her dying solitude,
With every little wizened star
Reminding you how small we are.
~Tom Prideaux (1908–1993), "The Egotist in His Orchard," c.1924


Night is black silk studded with the sequin-glint of stars. It is ebon atmosphere and phosphor-green planets; it is the stillness of dead space and the immensity of unreached dimension. ~R. D. Lawrence, The Place in the Forest, 1967


The Night walked down the sky
With the moon in her hand...
~Frederic Lawrence Knowles, "A Memory," Love Triumphant, 1904


When a calm, clear evening follows a warm day we see the mist gathering in the valleys, creeping stealthily and silently up the hillsides, and rising into the air in long, low, horizontal streaks which are made beautiful by the silent, silvery light of moon and stars. ~Alfred Rowland, "The Clouds: God's Angels of the Sea," in The Sunday Magazine (London), 1884


So that at eve, at Nature's shuddering hour...
Sirius appears, and on the horizon black,
Bids countless stars pursue their mighty track,
The clouds the only birds that never sleep,
Collected by the winds through heaven's steep—
The moon, the stars, the white-cap't hills...
~Victor Hugo, "The Vanished City," translated by Henry Carrington


The sun is a luminous shield
Borne up the blue path
By a god;
The moon is the torch
Of an old man
Who stumbles over stars.
~Eda Lou Walton, "The Lights," c. 1919


He stretched himself out... looking up at the moon. The sky was a midnight-blue, like warm, deep, blue water, and the moon seemed to lie on it like a water-lily, floating forward with an invisible current. One expected to see its great petals open. ~Willa Sibert Cather, One of Ours, 1922


A furious night wind whips tree branches into a violent frenzy.
The moon replies
with a poem.
~Dr. SunWolf, 2012, professorsunwolf.com


      And then we lay down on our backs and looked up at the sky full of stars...
      As we usually see the sky, it is a backdrop, the sky over our house, the sky beyond the clothesline, but lying down eliminates the horizon and rids of us that strange realistic perspective of the sky as a canopy centered over our heads, and we see the sky as what it is:  everything known and unknown, the universe, the whole beach other than the grain of sand we live on. The sight of the sky was so stunning it made us drunk. I felt as if I could put one foot forward and walk away from the wall of ground at my back and hike out toward Andromeda. ~Garrison Keillor, "Lying On Our Backs Looking Up at the Stars," Letters:  Reagan, We Are Still Married:  Stories & Letters, 1989, garrisonkeillor.com


How like a Queen comes forth the lonely Moon
From the slow-opening curtains of the clouds,
Walking in beauty to her midnight throne!...
~George Croly, "Diana," Gems, Principally from the Antique, 1822


I am mad with the sight of stars, and frenzied with the beauty of the silver, wanton moon. ~Muriel Strode (1875–1964), "Prayers of a Worldling: V," A Soul's Faring, 1921


How beautiful this night!...Heaven's ebon vault,
Studded with stars unutterably bright,
Through which the moon's unclouded grandeur rolls,
Seems like a canopy which love had spread
To curtain her sleeping world...
~Percy Bysshe Shelley, Queen Mab


To be glad of life, because it gives you the chance to love and to work and to play and to look up at the stars... and to spend as much time as you can, with body and with spirit, in God's out-of-doors — these are little guide-posts on the foot-path to peace. ~Henry Van Dyke, "The Foot-Path to Peace"


The man who has seen the rising moon break out of the clouds at midnight has been present like an archangel at the creation of light and of the world. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803–1882), "History"


The moving Moon went up the sky,
And nowhere did abide.
Softly she was going up,
And a star or two beside—
~Samuel Taylor Coleridge, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner


Indigo yearnings, starry hopes, dark forebodings. It's a storied sky tonight, telling ancient tales. ~Dr. SunWolf, @WordWhispers, tweet, 2011, professorsunwolf.com


I hung my wishes on a star
Gay fragile things as light
As snowflakes lit by winter moon
And just as shining bright...
~George Elliston, "Star Wishes," Through Many Windows, 1924


How pleasant now, pale empress of the sky... ~Henry Heavisides (1791–1870), "Moonlight Musings"


It is the very error of the moon;
She comes more nearer earth than she was wont,
And makes men mad.
~William Shakespeare, Othello, c.1604  [V, 2, Othello]


The pale and quiet moon
Makes her calm forehead bare,
And the last fragments of the storm,
Like shattered rigging from a fight at sea,
Silent and few, are drifting over me.
~James Russell Lowell, "Summer Storm," 1839


The twilight tints have left the sky, and night commences her watch over the world, high in the heavens is her taper lit, around which will soon glow a thousand kindred flames. ~Henry James Slack (1818–1896), The Ministry of the Beautiful, "Conversation II: Footsteps on the Sand," 1850


The stars in their myriad constellations,
A trillion asterisks and no explanations.
~Robert Brault, rbrault.blogspot.com


When I heard the learn'd astronomer,
When the proofs, the figures, were ranged in columns before me,
When I was shown the charts and diagrams, to add, divide, and measure them,
When I sitting heard the astronomer where he lectured with much applause in the lecture-room,
How soon unaccountable I became tired and sick,
Till rising and gliding out I wander'd off by myself,
In the mystical moist night-air, and from time to time,
Look'd up in perfect silence at the stars.
~Walt Whitman


Give me nights perfectly quiet... and I looking up at the stars... ~Walt Whitman


If stars were notes upon a musical sky
      the night what a song of beauty!
~Terri Guillemets


Venus has left the stars of the Virgin behind, and is sailing into the Claws. ~David J. Beard (1947–2016), @Raqhun, tweet, 2007  #virgo  #libra  #scorpius


Lightning is but a circlet of light about my throat...
Stars are but fireflies — I catch them in my playful hands.
~Muriel Strode (1875–1964), "Songs of Life-Freedom: VI," A Soul's Faring, 1921


Look out into the July night, and see the broad belt of silver flame which flashes up the half of heaven, fresh and delicate as the bonfires of the meadow-flies. Yet the powers of numbers cannot compute its enormous age,—lasting as space and time,—embosomed in time and space. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Progress of Culture"


...The stars,
Which stand as thick as dewdrops on the fields
Of heaven...
~Philip James Bailey, Festus: A Poem, 1838


Her favorite star smiled peacefully down upon her, and the milkmaid's pathway seemed strewn with garlands of new light and beauty. ~Alwyn M. Thurber, Nothing Ever Happens, 1899


Orion the Hunter is above the hill. Taurus, a sparkling V, is directly overhead, pointing to the Seven Sisters. Sirius, one of Orion's heel dogs, is pumping red-blue-violet, like a galactic disco ball. As the night moves on, the old dog will set into the hill. ~Karen Emslie, "Broken sleep," Aeon.co, 2014


Clouds tie-dye the night. ~Terri Guillemets


Bearded with dewy grass the mountains thrust
Their blackness high into the still grey light,
Deepening to blue: far up the glimmering height
In silver transience shines the starry dust...
~Æ (George William Russell), "On a Hill-Top," Homeward Songs by the Way, 1894


Earth-treading stars that make dark heaven light... ~William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet, c.1594  [I, 2, Capulet]


...these blessed candles of the night... ~William Shakespeare, Merchant of Venice, c.1596  [VI, 1, Bassanio]


The sky immense, bejewelled with rain of stars,
Hangs over us:
The stars like a sudden explosion powder the zenith
With green and gold;
North-east, south-west, the Milky Way's pale streamers
Flash past in flame;
The sky is a swirling cataract
Of fire, on high.
Over us the sky up to the zenith
Palpitates with tense glitter...
~John Gould Fletcher, "Night of Stars"


Ah, what tales the Moon can tell! ~Hans Christian Andersen, "What the Moon Saw," translated by H. W. Dulcken


And while he spoke the curtain of the sky
Night fretted with the cool embroidery
Of stars, and the moon upon her silent spindle
Did all the velvet warp to silver kindle.
~Humbert Wolfe, "The Unknown God," Shylock Reasons with Mr. Chesterton and Other Poems, 1920


Ye stars! which are the poetry of heaven... ~Lord Byron


      The sky was clear — remarkably clear — and the twinkling of all the stars seemed to be but throbs of one body, timed by a common pulse. The North star was directly in the wind's eye, and since evening the Bear had swung round it outwardly to the east... The kingly brilliancy of Sirius pierced the eye with a steely glitter, the star called Capella was yellow, Aldebaran and Betelgueux shone with a fiery red.
      To persons standing alone on a hill during a clear midnight such as this, the roll of the world eastward is almost a palpable movement... the impression of riding along is vivid and abiding. The poetry of motion is a phrase much in use, and to enjoy the epic form of that gratification it is necessary to stand on a hill at a small hour of the night, and, first enlarging the consciousness with a sense of difference from the mass of civilized mankind, who are horizontal and disregardful of all such proceedings at this time, long and quietly watch your stately progress through the stars. After such a nocturnal reconnoitre among these astral clusters, aloft from the customary haunts of thought and vision, some men may feel raised to a capability for eternity at once. ~Thomas Hardy, Far from the Madding Crowd, 1874


...it seemed to him that he could hear the stars throbbing... ~George Moore, The Brook Kerith, 1916


Let her shine as gloriously
As the Venus of the sky.
~William Shakespeare, Midsummer Night's Dream, c.1595  [III, 2, Oberon]


Day is a solar cathedral, night a starry sanctuary. ~Terri Guillemets


I stood, I knew not why,
Without a wish, without a will,
I stood upon that silent hill
And stared into the sky until
My eyes were blind with stars and still
I stared into the sky.
~Ralph Hodgson, "The Song of Honour"


Florence paced the staircase gallery outside, looked out of the window on the night, listened to the wind howling and the rain falling, sat down and watched the faces in the fire, got up and watched the moon flying like a storm-driven ship through the sea of clouds. ~Charles Dickens, "The Thunderbolt," Dombey and Son, 1846


Stars:  pearls round the tiara of midnight, mysterious heaven-lights to serve the spirit's flight to paradise. ~Thomas Clark Henley, "Beauty," 1851  [a little altered —tg]


The stars — pearls round the tiara of night — lamps guiding winged Fancy's flight to Heaven... ~Thomas Clark Henley, A Handful of Paper Shavings, 1861


When stars ride in on the wings of dusk,
      Out on the silent plain,
After the fevered fret of day,
      I find my strength again.
~Lew Sarett, "Refuge," Many Many Moons, 1920


As, in truth, star-gazing will prove to all who undertake it, not as a mere watching of twinkling pinpoints, but as a means of gaining a clearer understanding of the world wherein we live, a broader vision of the universe of which our world is but a tiny fragment. ~H. Addington Bruce, "Nourish Your Soul," Self-Development: A Handbook for the Ambitious, 1921


There are few instruments which yield more pleasure and instruction than the Telescope. ~R.A. Proctor, Half-Hours with the Telescope, 1878


Rejoice, sing and rejoice in a song of love and death,
For this is heaven's voice beyond all mortal breath:
Sing flowers, birds and trees, sing nature, sing ye stars.
Be vocal Pleiades! sing, fiery breath of Mars!
      Rejoice for death, rejoice.
~Cora L. V. Scott Richmond, "A Requiem to Ouina, Sung Over Her Grave," Ouina's Canoe, 1882


MOONLIGHT  Sunlight with the heat turned off. ~Charles Wayland Towne, The Altogether New Foolish Dictionary, by Gideon Wurdz, 1914


...the great Cross glittered at the pole
Orion and his wrath were red
and the Milky Way white overhead
all heaven a well-lit cyclorama
for such a fine resounding drama...
~R. A. K. Mason, "Twenty-Sixth October," Collected Poems, 1963


The night sky is a miracle of infinitude. ~Terri Guillemets


When the moon, after covering herself with darkness as in sorrow, at last throws off the garments of her widowhood, she does not at once expose herself impudently to the public gaze; but for a time remains veiled in a transparent cloud, till she gradually acquires courage to endure the looks and admiration of beholders. ~Augustus William Hare and Julius Charles Hare, Guesses at Truth, by Two Brothers, 1827


The stars are the street lights of eternity. ~Author unknown


Look up. There is the endlessness of space — the great stars made of fire and ice, wide silver rivers flung across the sky... ~Pam Brown, To a Very Special Granddaughter, 1993, helenexley.com


O evening stars —
White twinkling finger tips
Idly lying on
The giant key-board of the sky —
Play me some bars to-night —
A few of you — and play
The theme, no more, —
I could not bear to hear
The whole vast symphony of Heaven and Earth,
The grand discordant harmony of Life.
~S. F., "Nocturne," Poems by Three Friends, 1924


Stars look serene, but they are incredibly violent furnaces that occasionally erupt... ~Isaac Asimov


The moon was falling into our street
      Out of a tree,
And we walked slow, and the night was sweet,
      And there were three
Stars huddled together in the space
That is the sky, and in your face
Was a little laughing, a little pain
And the fear that there could not be again
A night so dear as this night had been.
And we said Good-by, and I went in.
And you walked away; and the church clock spoke.
And the moon fell into our street and broke.
~Mary Carolyn Davies, "Moments: V: Our Street," Youth Riding, 1919


The moon rose in the silvery sky, empearling the clouds around her. Below, the pond shimmered in its hazy radiance. Just beyond the homestead was the church with the old graveyard beside it. The moonlight shone on the white stones, bringing them out in clear-cut relief against the dark trees behind. "How strange the graveyard looks by moonlight!... How ghostly!" ~L. M. Montgomery, Anne of the Island, 1915


...from her dead disk the new moon
Stretches a first faint velvet horn
And April's antlered night is born...
~Joseph Auslander, "Letter to Emily Dickinson," 1920s


You and I in the night, spied on by stars… ~James Oppenheim, "The Man Speaks," Songs for the New Age, 1914


I am a dreamer. Stars of Summer night,
I owe ye much that in the quiet spell
With which your gaze has charmed my very soul,
I learned to dream of heaven wherein ye dwell.
And I have fancied that each fleecy cloud,
Flitting across the midnight quiet sky,
Has borne upon its frail and shadowy form
The image of some dear departed one.
I am a dreamer...
~Fanny Fielding, "Dreaming," 1800s  [pseudonym of a "talented and educated lady" from Virginia —tg]


It was a murky confusion — here and there blotted with a color like the color of the smoke from damp fuel — of flying clouds tossed up into most remarkable heaps, suggesting greater heights in the clouds than there were depths below them to the bottom of the deepest hollows in the earth, through which the wild moon seemed to plunge headlong, as if, in a dread disturbance of the laws of nature, she had lost her way and were frightened. ~Charles Dickens, "Tempest," David Copperfield, 1850


Orion hid in a phantom sky,
Where clouds rolled up from the southern seas;
The moon like a pallid ghost slid by
The shrouded path of the Pleiades;—
One single star on the mountain height,
Serene and fair from its heavenly goal,
A steady gleam flung over the night,
Like thought of God to a troubled soul.
~Josephine Butterfield Walcott (1840–1906), "Afterward," World of Song, 1878


Life is so much clearer under the stars than under a roof. ~Terri Guillemets


All its being belted
With a glory bright,
While into heaven it melted
In a dream of light.
Never more glance crossed it
In the sky-heart far,
But where I had lost it
Shone the evening star.
~"The Cloud," Excelsior: Helps to Progress in Religion, Science, and Literature, Vol. VI, edited by James Hamilton, 1856


I remember a particularly fine glitter of stars; with no moon; and with the desert hills so much starless indigo at the base of the sky. ~J. B. Priestley, Midnight on the Desert: A Chapter of Autobiography, 1917


Along the pavement of the sky
Night, the veiled priestess, pacing slow,
Swings her white censers solemnly
Through the blue ether to and fro.
~Phœbe Carey, "The Haunted," 1850


Thick walls of stars!
Yonder 's the Great Bear, and low hangs the Dipper,
Mars burns red; that is Orion:
I would I had the Pleiades to hang as a necklace
Here about your throat…
~James Oppenheim, "When Night Is Still," War and Laughter, 1916


The clouds do break away from Lady Moon
As waves that hide the deep-sea pearl...
The little clouds that scurry by
Do fan her heavenly cares away.
~Julia Cooley Altrocchi (1893–1972), "Sentences That I Make Up," The Poems of a Child, Being Poems Written Between the Ages of Six and Ten, 1904


Perhaps you did not know how bright last night...
Those stars were lit with longing of my own...
~John Robinson Jeffers, "And the Stars"


Thou fair-hair'd angel of the evening,
Now, whilst the sun rests on the mountains, light
Thy bright torch of love; thy radiant crown
Put on, and smile upon our evening bed!
~William Blake (1757-1827), "To The Evening Star"


The moon hung low in the sky like a yellow skull. From time to time a huge misshapen cloud stretched a long arm across and hid it. ~Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray, 1890


O that moon last night!
No wonder everyone needs
an afternoon nap.
~Teitoku, translated by Harry Behn, 1971


Men track the path of Saturn as he swings
Around the sun, circled with moons and rings;
But who shall follow on the awful flight
Of huge Orion through the dreadful deep?
Far on the dark abyss he seems to sleep,
Yet wanders the shoreless, old, inscrutable night.
~Edwin Markham, "Imagination," Gates of Paradise and Other Poems, 1920


...the twinkling anatomy of Orion and his skymates... ~Terri Guillemets


Twilight wraps the fading day
In folds of golden clouds
And unrolls the dark night
Noiselessly from the calm sky.
~Julia Cooley Altrocchi (1893–1972), "Twilight," 1903, The Poems of a Child, Being Poems Written Between the Ages of Six and Ten, 1904


Above his head the midnight constellations swung steadily down the western sky... ~Frances Frost, Maple Sugar for Windy Foot, 1950


Through leafy windows of the trees
The full moon shows a wrinkled face,
And, trailing dim her draperies
      Of mist from place to place,
      The Twilight leads the breeze.
~Madison Cawein, "Minions of the Moon"


The Moon is like a big round cheese
That shines above the garden trees,
And like a cheese grows less each night,
As though some one had had a bite.
~Oliver Herford, "The Moon," The Kitten's Garden of Verses, 1911


Two A.M. stars are unknown to those who sleep in stuffy inns. ~Cid Ricketts Sumner, Saddle Your Dreams, 1964  [a little altered —tg]


Look at the stars! look, look up at the skies!
      O look at all the fire-folk sitting in the air!
      The bright boroughs, the circle-citadels there!
Down in dim woods the diamond delves! the elves'-eyes!
The grey lawns cold where gold, where quickgold lies!
      Wind-beat whitebeam! airy abeles set on a flare!...
~Gerard Manley Hopkins, "The Starlight Night," 1877


The secret is to maintain the needed balance between subjective impressions and objective realities. If we study the stars for long periods we are glad to get back to earth again for a rubber of whist or a round of golf; but when earthly troubles oppress us there is nothing like astronomy for belittling mountains to their original molehills. ~T. Sharper Knowlson, Originality: A Popular Study of the Creative Mind, 1917


I could be well moved, if I were as you:
If I could pray to move, prayers would move me:
But I am constant as the northern star,
Of whose true-fix'd and resting quality
There is no fellow in the firmament.
The skies are painted with unnumber'd sparks,
They are all fire and every one doth shine,
But there's but one in all doth hold his place:
So in the world; 'tis furnish'd well with men,
And men are flesh and blood, and apprehensive;
Yet in the number I do know but one
That unassailable holds on his rank,
Unshaked of motion: and that I am he,
Let me a little show it, even in this;
That I was constant Cimber should be banish'd,
And constant do remain to keep him so.
~William Shakespeare, Julius Caesar, c.1599  [III, 1, Cassius]  [Did you know that Polaris was not always the North Star as it is now? When the Egyptians built the pyramids, for example, it was Thuban (α Draconis), in the Draco constellation. The North Star is also known as the Lodestar, or the Pole Star. —tg]


Low clouds are shattered
into small distant fragments
of moonlit mountains.
~Basho, translated by Harry Behn, 1971


...night with its razzle-dazzle of stars in silver, emerald and sapphire blue... ~Edward Abbey, Desert Solitaire, 1968


the moon and plum tree
make flow'ry springtime shadows—
lovers of the night
~Terri Guillemets


A new moon visible in the east. How unexpectedly it always appears! ~Henry David Thoreau, journal, 1851


...Till you emerged, the moon upon your shoulder, and the night
Bloomed blue.
~Emanuel Morgan (Witter Bynner), "Opus 41," Spectra: A Book of Poetic Experiments, 1916  [farce —tg]


In a blizzard, the full moon of high winter atomized through layers of wind and snow. It was a rumor, a ghost, a tease of moonlight that came when the big rags of clouds swept by and there was a thin place worn through the storm. ~Craig Childs, Crossing Paths: Uncommon Encounters with Animals in the Wild, 1997


The moon was but a chin of gold
      A night or two ago,
And now she turns her perfect face
      Upon the world below.
Her forehead is of amplest blond;
      Her cheek like beryl stone;
Her eye unto the summer dew
      The likest I have known...
And what a privilege to be
      But the remotest star!
For certainly her way might pass
      Beside your twinkling door.
Her bonnet is the firmament,
      The universe her shoe,
The stars the trinkets at her belt,
      Her dimities of blue.
~Emily Dickinson


Behind the stars that twinkled were stars that blazed; behind the stars that blazed were smaller stars, and behind them a sort of luminous dust. ~George Moore, The Brook Kerith: A Syrian Story, 1916


Sunset: then night opening to the Earth-gazer the gates of star-strewed eternity. ~James Oppenheim, The Beloved, 1915


...the moonlight cast arborescent shadows on the snow... and caused the distant mountain peaks to glow as though they had been coated with a mixture of calcimine and phosphorus. ~R. D. Lawrence (1921–2003), The North Runner, 1979


Moonlight is essentially just gothic sunlight. ~Keith Wynn, tweet, 2022


Gazing down in her white shroud,
      Wov'n of windy cloud,
Comes at night the phantom moon...
~Madison J. Cawein (1865–1914), "The Haunted House"


The full risen moon that dapples the ground beneath the trees, touches the tall church spires with silver; and slants their loftiness — as memory slants grief — in long, dark, tapering lines, upon the silvered Green. ~Ik Marvel (Donald Grant Mitchell, 1822–1908), Dream Life: A Fable of the Seasons


The moon is but a silver watch
      To tell the time of night;
      If you should wake, and wish to know
      The hour, don't strike a light.
Just draw the blind, and closely scan
      Her dial in the blue:
      If it is round and bright, there is
      A deal more sleep for you.
She runs without an error,
      Not too slow nor too quick,
      And better than alarum clocks—
      She doesn't have to tick!
~Christopher Morley, "Full Moon"


The far-away hills, dusted with moonlight, were a poem. ~L. M. Montgomery, Anne of Ingleside, 1939


...there does a sable cloud
Turn forth her silver lining on the night...
~John Milton


We are as clouds that veil the midnight moon;
      How restlessly they speed, and gleam, and quiver,
Streaking the darkness radiantly!—yet soon
      Night closes round, and they are lost for ever...
We feel, conceive or reason, laugh or weep;
      Embrace fond woe, or cast our cares away:
It is the same!—For, be it joy or sorrow,
      The path of its departure still is free;
Man's yesterday may ne'er be like his morrow;
      Nought may endure but Mutability.
~Percy Bysshe Shelley, "Mutability"


The Star Yacht Dora... lifted, straight up, a round black cloud against the stars... Lazarus... looked quickly around him — Dipper . . North Star . . okay, fence that way, road beyond, and — Caesar's Ghost! — a bull!  ~Robert A. Heinlein, Time Enough for Love: The Lives of Lazarus Long, 1973


In the sky, the North Star pulsed directly over my head, and the Dipper looked so close that it seemed possible to reach up and touch its pointers. ~R. D. Lawrence (1921–2003), The North Runner, 1979


Memories of the fitful clouds
Softening the hard moonlight...
~George Elliston, "Bitterness May Pass," Through Many Windows, 1924


I listened, there was not a sound to hear
In the great rain of moonlight pouring down,
The eucalyptus trees were carved in silver,
And a light mist of silver lulled the town.
I saw far off the grey Pacific bearing
A broad white disk of flame,
And on the garden-walk a snail beside me
Tracing in crystal the slow way he came.
~Sara Teasdale, "Full Moon (Santa Barbara)"


O, swear not by the moon, the inconstant moon,
That monthly changes in her circled orb,
Lest that thy love prove likewise variable.
~William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet, c.1594  [II, 2, Juliet]


I am God's night watchman...
Each night climbing the celestial flight
To sweep the dusty cliffs of night,
Teaching little angels to play their little lutes,
Keeping comets in their place, shining Peter's boots,
Putting up in moth balls Gabriel's winter wings,
Scrubbing golden pavements, and a score of other things,
Watching a dull earth spinning sulkily in space...
These keep me toiling year on year
For the pittance that they pay up here.
Now Venus offered me a raise of three bob eight
To come… Dear me, it's growing late,
The way time flies is most surprising,
Please pardon me, I must be rising.
~Martha Andrews, "The Moon"


Imagine how many glorious winters and springs
The stars from their celestial perches have seen.
~Terri Guillemets


My cave is snug and sweet—but sweet—
      And the lamps are burning bright,
And Margot says I'll catch my death
      If I go on the roof, to-night.
But I say that I want to see my star;
      For something has gone wrong
In the way that I hitched my wagon on,
      And I promise I won't stay long...
I know I'm a fool, but what can I do
      When the house top's calling me?...
I'm a king, on my own house top,
      And the moon is all my own;
There's never a soul in sight to-night
      And it's good to be alone...
~Jean Wright, "A Fool on a Roof: Et in Arcadia Ego"


In our day of houses and books one is likely to spend his evenings with a story under a lamp. But when the race was younger and men had not learned to write, and lamps were dim, smoky things at best, people were more likely to sit out under the stars and find stories in them. ~"The Autumn Skies: Some of the Stories We May Read in the Stars," The World Review, October 1925


Whatever else astronomy may or may not be who can doubt it to be the most beautiful of the sciences? ~Isaac Asimov


Light of the moon
Moves west, flowers' shadows
Creep eastward.
~Buson (1716–1784)


Take down thy stars, O God! We look not up. ~Olive Tilford Dargan (1869–1968), "These Latter Days"


Heavy clouds obscured the sky, and the Moon did not make his appearance at all. I stood in my little room, more lonely than ever, and looked up at the sky where he ought to have shown himself. ~Hans Christian Andersen, "What the Moon Saw," translated by H. W. Dulcken


And, as I looked dreamily towards the clouds, the sky became bright. There was a glancing light, and a beam from the Moon fell upon me. It vanished again, and dark clouds flew past; but still it was a greeting, a friendly good night offered to me by the Moon. ~Hans Christian Andersen, "What the Moon Saw," translated by H. W. Dulcken


Die down, O dismal day! and let me live.
And come, blue deeps! magnificently strewn
With colored clouds — large, light, and fugitive —
By upper winds through pompous motions blown.
~David Gray


The stars were mingled with my dreams... ~William Wordsworth


On the seas of the evening and midnight skies float innumerable millions of millions of vessels. Great battleships of infinitely-far stars, some of them hull down, a mere point of light on the horizon, hurtle their way through space. Relatively near, and seemingly large, proud Jupiter, like the flagship of a squadron, with eight attendant moon-pinnaces, sweeping the skies with his searchlight; Venus, transforming a stretch of the western heaven into a celestial Venice, by floating, a glorious gondola of light, on a blue sky-lagoon; and other planets steer a course which is not far from this earth. But of all the craft that voyage those darkened seas, only the moon takes thought for voyagers on our own darkened seas beneath her, and lights those seas, not by stray star-glints, but by her effulgent rays. Only the moon takes pity on us when we are forsaken by the sun. Only the moon hoists a beacon light to guide lost wanderers on moor or fell or treacherous mountain paths. ~Coulson Kernahan, Begging the Moon's Pardon, 1930


...the moon is sitting
In her cloud-garden...
~Prudence Gager, "Bedtime"


...the moon showed like a ghost in the branches of the trees. ~George Moore, The Brook Kerith: A Syrian Story, 1916


The Night shook out her star-jew’ll’d hair... ~John Stuart Thomson, "The Night," Estabelle and Other Verse, 1897


The calm before the storm is not a cliché in the north. Usually snow arrives in stealth and in the dead of night, bringing as a companion the big cold. At one moment it seems that the usual background sounds of the wilderness are present; at the next, the land becomes utterly still, yet the calm has not arrived suddenly... Little by little the breeze loses momentum, and the cold increases its grip, and the animals, still magnificently primitive and sensitive, notice the change of tempo and respond to it... By the time that the full calm settles over the wilderness it is as though all life had vanished from the surface of the land, leaving only the silently moving aurora that reflects itself endlessly on each particle of frost and creates uncountable, tiny "frost stars" that would seem to duplicate in miniature the incessant glitter of the Milky Way. And the mercury keeps dropping. ~R. D. Lawrence (1921–2003), The North Runner, 1979


Northern Lights came slipping from the cave
      Of spirits in the land-of-winter ice
And lifted up a spectral hand to clutch
      The shuddering stars...
~Lew Sarett, "Still-Day: A Medicine-man," Slow Smoke, 1925  [modified —tg]


I felt the intense stillness and saw the blue-green lights creeping and pulsing and rippling in a firmament peppered with bright stars and backdropped by a blue-black veil. I watched the spectacle for some moments, never tiring of the display of the northern lights... ~R. D. Lawrence (1921–2003), The North Runner, 1979


As green as shallow water lay the sky
(With clouds like purple fishes flitting by),
      Save where, to North,
      Strange lights flared forth.
Two hills enclasped a huge, transparent bowl
Of wine, with crimson dregs like living coal.
I thought to straddle o'er the mountain line
And take tremendous pulls at that great wine.
      But whoso quaffed
      That splendid draught
Could trundle echoing moons around in play,
Like snowballs gathering stars upon their way.
~J. N. Cameron, "A Bowl of Wine (11 p.m. Midsummer)"


The northern lights now filled the sky, moving over it like the luminous waves of a restless ocean, their blue-green pulses rising and falling capriciously, at times creeping across the star-filled sky and almost seeming to crackle, on other occasions contracting into themselves and becoming moving greenish shafts that for a fraction of time laid a soft, fluorescent blush on the snow, causing individual flakes to sparkle... I was witnessing a phantasmagorical ballet accompanied by silent music... And then, starting low, but gradually rising high before descending again to a rich basso, the voice of a lone wolf traveled hauntingly through the wilderness, seeming to float upward and to become lost among the flashes of the Aurora Borealis. ~R. D. Lawrence, "Homesteading," The Green Trees Beyond: A Memoir, 1994


Star-knotted ether... ~James Oppenheim, "The Adventurer," War and Laughter, 1916


The moon is a brilliant orange;
The gods slice it into quarters;
The pits are scattered far into the heavens.
~Edna Ocho


The "ghosts of prayer plumes," which Moke-icha saw in the sky, is the Milky Way. The Queres pray by the use of small feathered sticks planted in the ground or in crevices of the rocks in high and lonely places. As the best feathers for this purpose are white, and as everything is thought of by Indians as having a spirit, it was easy for them to think of that wonderful drift of stars across the sky as the spirits of prayers, traveling to Those Above. ~Mary Hunter Austin, The Trail Book, 1918


The moon comes out, and gleaming through the clouds, braids its light, fantastic bow upon the waters. You feel calmer as the night deepens. The darkness softens you... ~Ik Marvel (Donald Grant Mitchell, 1822–1908), Dream Life: A Fable of the Seasons


The moon is a vampire to-night. She has sucked from the stars
Their splendour of silver: they lean to us weary and white
Like prisoners' faces pressed pale against window bars,
And the wind is full of whispering dust to-night.
~Nora Chesson, "A June Night," The Waiting Widow and Other Poems, 1906


...see, when I talk of eyes, the stars come out! Whose eyes are they? If they are angels' eyes, why do they look down here and see good men hurt, and only wink and sparkle all the night? ~Charles Dickens, 1841


Come out into the open air on a clear calm night when you can see three thousand eyes gazing upon you from the sky, and say if it is wonderful that there should be star-worshippers? There is not a more sublime view in Nature. ~Thomas Clark Henley, A Handful of Paper Shavings, 1861


The angels all were singing out of tune,
And hoarse with having little else to do,
Excepting to wind up the sun and moon,
Or curb a runaway young star or two,
Or wild colt of a comet, which too soon
Broke out of bounds o'er th' ethereal blue,
Splitting some planet with its playful tail,
As boats are sometimes by a wanton whale.
~Lord Byron


      Conceit is put in its proper place by a course of star study. The petty achievements of which men often are unduly proud are seen in the truer perspective through contemplation of the wondrous firmament God has wrought.
      How wondrous it is! How incredibly lofty and profound. How eloquent, despite its eternal silences.
      You gaze at the single star Capella. That is, you think you are gazing at a single star. Actually, astronomers inform you, you are beholding two stars, millions and millions of miles apart, yet so far from you that their light seems to come as from one star only!
      Then you let your eyes roam to all quarters of the compass. Everywhere stars shine down upon you, vast spaces between each star, however thickly they may seem to be clustered. And beyond them all are other spaces — spaces unimaginable, unknowable. Your soul grows as you look. You heart reaches out and upward. Life and the universe and the supreme Director of life and Maker of the universe acquire an ever more significant meaning to you. You are gaining an education you need — an education every one needs...
      So... Let all become star-gazers, looking up, up, studying the lessons written in hieroglyphs of gold... ~H. Addington Bruce, "Nourish Your Soul," Self-Development: A Handbook for the Ambitious, 1921


glowing ghost-clouds
lit by a haunted moon
~Terri Guillemets


...Stars with blazing hair... ~Alexander Pope, "The Temple of Fame: A Vision," 1711


Another night, another "Why?"
I launch into the starry sky
To echo as a fading sigh
Across the reach of no reply.
~Robert Brault, rbrault.blogspot.com


Another day is gone—and in the east,
'Bove clouds opaque that top the mountain's brow,
The rising moon, which seems an orb of fire,
Bursts in full splendour on the ravished eye...
~Henry Heavisides (1791–1870), "Moonlight Musings"


The sun a round and golden ghost,
The moon the shadow he has lost...
~Humbert Wolfe, "Opals and Amber," Shylock Reasons with Mr. Chesterton and Other Poems, 1920


How bright and beautiful a comet is as it flies past our planet — provided it does fly past it. ~Isaac Asimov


How sweet the moonlight sleeps upon this bank!
Here will we sit and let the sounds of music
Creep in our ears: soft stillness and the night
Become the touches of sweet harmony.
Sit, Jessica. Look how the floor of heaven
Is thick inlaid with patines of bright gold:
There's not the smallest orb which thou behold'st
But in his motion like an angel sings,
Still quiring to the young-eyed cherubins;
Such harmony is in immortal souls;
But whilst this muddy vesture of decay
Doth grossly close it in, we cannot hear it.
~William Shakespeare, Merchant of Venice, c.1596  [V, 1, Lorenzo]


In midnight, in mournful moonlight... ~John Gould Fletcher, "White Symphony"


It was a wild gusty night. The clouds were drifting over the moon at their giddiest speed, at one time wholly obscuring her, at another, suffering her to burst forth in full splendour and shed her light on all the objects around; anon, driving over her again with increased velocity, and shrouding everything in darkness. ~Charles Dickens, The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club, 1836


High in the air rises the forest of oaks, high over the oaks soar the eagle, high over the eagle sweep the clouds, high over the clouds gleam the stars... high over the stars sweep the angels... ~Heinrich Heine, "Ideas: Book Le Grand," 1826, translated from German by Charles Godfrey Leland, Pictures of Travel, 1855


How long have standing men, by such a stone
As this I watch from on this windless night,
Beheld Antares and the Snake aright.
The Scales were up when not an Arab walked
On sand that soon was paved with names of stars;
Boötes herded, and the Giant stalked
Past the curved Dragon, contemplating wars...
The Eagle and the Swan, that sailed so long,
Floating upon white wings the Arrow missed,
Tilted at midnight, plunging with a song
Earthward, and—as they sank—deep Hydra hissed.
Leo had long been growling in his lair
When Pegasus neighed softly in the East,
Rising upon a wind that blew his hair
Freshly, until Aquarius increased...
~Mark Van Doren, "Now the Sky," 1926


I went my way accompanied by the stars; Arcturus followed me, and becoming entangled in a leafy tree, shone by glimpses, and then emerged triumphant, Lord of the Western Sky. Moving along the road in the silence of my own footsteps, my thoughts were among the Constellations. I was one of the Princes of the starry Universe; in me also there was something that was not insignificant and mean and of no account. ~Logan Pearsall Smith, "The Stars"


Fain of the light of some long-quenchèd star...
~Arthur Davison Ficke, Sonnets of a Portrait-Painter, 1914


The cool dark night yawns a mist over the moon. ~Terri Guillemets, "Luna veiled," 2009


Stars great and lonely,
Let me be one of you,
To burn myself to ashes in the night.
~John Gould Fletcher, "Despair"


...skies rain a shiver of stars... ~Josephine Butterfield Walcott (1840–1906), "Destiny," World of Song, 1878


Brother, push me into the sky,
I love to see the bright stars.
When I see them,
I feel happy.
But if I could be hung
From the end of the moon,
I would rock in the sky
And be happy always.
~Nicholas Giulano, "The Swing"


I have of late — but wherefore I know not — lost all my mirth, forgone all custom of exercises; and indeed, it goes so heavily with my disposition that this goodly frame, the earth, seems to me a sterile promontory; this most excellent canopy, the air, look you, this brave o'erhanging firmament, this majestical roof fretted with golden fire — why, it appeareth no other thing to me than a foul and pestilent congregation of vapours. ~William Shakespeare, Hamlet, c.1600  [II, 2]


For age is opportunity no less
Than youth itself, though in another dress,
And as the evening twilight fades away
The sky is filled with stars, invisible by day.
~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, "Morituri Salutamus"


Silently one by one, in the infinite meadows of heaven,
Blossomed the lovely stars, the forget-me-nots of the angels.
~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow


...the sky above the valley was a blue meadow of summer stars. ~Frances Frost, Fireworks for Windy Foot, 1956


...i saw the moon rise out of a skyscraper...
~Ken Sekaquaptewa and Candy St. Jacques, Sahuaro, 1970, yearbook of the Associated Students of Arizona State University


...the moon set later on,
and the sky, suddenly very dark, was star clear...
~Ken Sekaquaptewa and Candy St. Jacques, Sahuaro, 1970, yearbook of the Associated Students of Arizona State University


Thick, threatening clouds, assembling soon,
Their dragon wings displayed;
Eclipsed the slow retiring moon,
And quenched the stars in shade.
~James Montgomery, "The Vigil of St. Mark," 1806


By and by the moon comes climbing
Up the long steep wall of sky...
~Mary Hunter Austin (1868–1934), "A Child's Night Thoughts"


The Moon and its phases gave man his first calendar. Trying to match that calendar with the seasons helped give him mathematics. The usefulness of the calendar helped give rise to the thought of beneficent gods. And with all that the Moon is beautiful, too. ~Isaac Asimov


Swim, white Moon, in the dusky blue,
      Swim in the still dark sky...
Swing, white Moon, to the breeze that blows
      From the Milky Way so bright...
~Sarah Noble Ives, "The Moon," Songs of the Shining Way, 1899


O! it is pleasant, with a heart at ease,
Just after sunset, or by moonlight skies,
To make the shifting clouds be what you please...
~Samuel Taylor Coleridge, "Fancy in Nubibus"


But tonight a golden star-dust
Is pouring through space...
~Anne Knish (Arthur Davison Ficke), "Opus 126," Spectra: A Book of Poetic Experiments, 1916  [farce —tg]


Venus... the surface air temperature nears 900 degrees Fahrenheit. On Venus you could cook a 16-inch pepperoni pizza in seven seconds, just by holding it out to the air. (Yes, I did the math.) ... It's no accident, by the way, that Venus is hot. It suffers from a runaway greenhouse effect, induced by the carbon dioxide in its atmosphere, which traps infrared energy... eventually creating — and now sustaining — a remarkable pizza oven. ~Neil deGrasse Tyson, Death by Black Hole and Other Cosmic Quandaries, 2007  [In 1980, Tyson changed the popular planets mnemonic from "My Very Educated Mother Just Served Us Nine Prunes" to "Nine Pizzas." Pizzas was the beloved Pluto. —tg]


Moon —
the nightlight
for our souls
~Terri Guillemets, "Faith well lit," 2011


There at a certain hour of the deep night,
A gray cliff with a demon face comes up,
Wrinkled and old, behind the peaks, and with
An anxious look peers at the Zodiac.
~Edwin Markham, "In High Sierras"


Hey! Shooting star! Wish quick! ~Frances Frost, Fireworks for Windy Foot, 1956





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