Eruptive lightnings flutter to and fro
Above the heights of immemorial hills;
Thirst-stricken air, dumb-throated, in its woe
Limply down-sagging, its limp body spills
Upon the earth. A panting silence fills
The empty vault of Night with shimmering bars
Of sullen silver, where the lake distils
Its misered bounty.—Hark! No whisper mars
The utter silence of the untranslated stars.
— E.E. Cummings
In the wild soft summer darkness
How many and many a night we two together
Sat in the park and watched the Hudson
Wearing her lights like golden spangles
Glinting on black satin.
The rail along the curving pathway
Was low in a happy place to let us cross,
And down the hill a tree that dripped with bloom
While your kisses and the flowers,
Tangled in my hair. . . .
The frail white stars moved slowly over the sky.
And now, far off
In the fragrant darkness
The tree is tremulous again with bloom
For June comes back.
To-night what girl
Dreamily before her mirror shakes from her hair
This year’s blossoms, clinging to its coils?
— Sara Teasdale
Do you still remember: falling stars,
how they leapt slantwise through the sky
like horses over suddenly held-out hurdles
of our wishes — did we have so many?–
for stars, innumerable, leapt everywhere;
almost every gaze upward became
wedded to the swift hazard of their play,
and our heart felt like a single thing
beneath that vast disintegration of their brilliance–
and was whole, as if it would survive them!
— Rainer Maria Rilke
Most likely, you think we hated the elephant,
the golden toad, the thylacine and all variations
of whale harpooned or hacked into extinction.
It must seem like we sought to leave you nothing
but benzene, mercury, the stomachs
of seagulls rippled with jet fuel and plastic.
You probably doubt that we were capable of joy,
but I assure you we were.
We still had the night sky back then,
and like our ancestors, we admired
its illuminated doodles
of scorpion outlines and upside-down ladles.
Absolutely, there were some forests left!
Absolutely, we still had some lakes!
I’m saying, it wasn’t all lead paint and sulfur dioxide.
There were bees back then, and they pollinated
a euphoria of flowers so we might
contemplate the great mysteries and finally ask,
“Hey guys, what’s transcendence?”
And then all the bees were dead.
— Matthew Olzmann
spoke to me
to come falling
out of the brisk cloud,
to be happy again
in a new way
on the earth!
That’s what it said
as it dropped,
smelling of iron,
like a dream of the ocean
into the branches
and the grass below.
Then it was over.
The sky cleared.
I was standing
under a tree.
The tree was a tree
with happy leaves,
and I was myself,
and there were stars in the sky
that were also themselves
at the moment,
at which moment
my right hand
was holding my left hand
which was holding the tree
which was filled with stars
and the soft rain—
the wild and wondrous journeys
still to be ours.
— Mary Oliver
Out of the shadow late at night I gape
And see the stars but do not watch them really,
And hear the trains but do not listen clearly;
Inside my mind I turn about to keep
Myself awake, yet I am not there entirely;
Something of me is out in the dark landscape.
How much am I then what I think, how much what I feel,
How much the eye that seems to keep stars straight?
Do I control what I can contemplate
Or is it my vision that’s amenable?
I turn in my mind; my mind is a room whose wall
I can see the top of but never completely scale.
All that I love is, like the night, outside,
Good to be gazed at, looking as if it could
With a simple gesture be brought inside my head,
Or in my heart, but my thoughts about it divide
Me from my object. Now, deep in my bed,
I turn and the world turns on the other side.
— Elizabeth Jennings