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Musings After Dark.

Musings After Dark.

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Published by: GLENN DALE PEASE on Mar 26, 2013
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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MUSINGS AFTER DARK.BY FRANCIS JACOXI.TWILIGHT.WITH the close of the day this book begins.The pathway of it is as the fading light, thatwaneth more and more unto the perfect dark.Evening's welcome is sung as well by a devoutCowper as by an undevout Byron. If the latter hailsHesperus as bringing all good things — ^home to theweary, cheer to the hungry, re-union to the family —and greets twilight as the soft hour which wakeslonging in the heart of the wanderer, — the formerwelcomes evening once again — season of peace, witha wish that, coming, it may continue long. TheFlying Islander of Peter Wilkins rejoiced in twilight,gladdening as it deepened and darkened. That isnot the normal feeling of humankind. But Cowper'swelcome finds an echo in the heart of most, and fewof us but have, at some time or other, seen Eveningthrough his eyes.9 BCREPUSCULAfi EFFECTS." Methinks I see thee in the streaky west,With matron step slow moving, while the nightTreads on thy sweeping train ; one hand employedIn letting fall the curtain of reposeOn bird and beast, the other charged for manWith sweet oblivion of the cares of day.*****Come then, and thou shalt find thy votary calm.Or make me so. Composure is thy gift"So we read of the Monk Felix, as he walked withinthe woodlands, that the twilight was like the Truce of God with worldly woe and care. According to Mrs.Browning," Eve is a twofold mystery —The stillness Earth doth keep, —
The motion wherewith human heartsDo each to either leap.As if all souls between the polesFelt * Parting comes in sleep.' "So begins her Poet's Vow; and in another and slighterbut suggestive poem of hers, A Sea-side Walk, is thisstanza : —" Nor moon nor stars were outThey did not dare to tread so soon about,Though trembling, in the footsteps of the sun.The light was neither night's nor day's, but oneWhich, Ufe-like, had a beauty in its doubt ;And Silence's impassioned breathings roundSeemed wandering into sound."The longest day had been quite long enough forWordsworth when he wrote upon it, in its decline,that Evening now unbound the fetters fashioned byABSTRACTING POWER OF TWILIGHT, 3the glowing light, and declared all that breathe tobe " thankful debtors to the harbinger of night." Hisstudies of crepuscular effects, objective and subjective,are numerous and diversified. As "when the airglimmers with fading light, and shadowy Eve isbusiest to confer and to bereave." Or as "whenDaylight, fled from earth, on the grey sky hath lefthis lingering Ghost, perplexed as if between a splen-dour lost and splendour slowly mustering," — that of thestarry host Elsewhere he bids us observe how dewyTwilight has withdrawn the crowd of daisies fromthe shaven lawn, and has restored to view its tendergreen, that, while the sun rode high, was lost beneaththeir dazzling sheen. * Mr. de Quincey gives Words-worth the credit of having been the first that everdistinctly noticed the abstracting power of Twilight —that power of renewing, softening, harmonising, bywhich a mode of obscurity executes for the' eye thesame mysterious office which the mind so often withinits own shadowy realms executes for itself In the* The didactic poet forgets not to make a moral " improve-ment " of his theme — offering it as an emblem of what the soberTwilight can do for minds disposed to feel its power : —" Thus oft, when we in vain have wished awayThe petty pleasures of the garish day,Meek eve shuts up the whole usurping host
(Unbashful dwarfs each glittering at his post).And leaves the disencumbered spirit freeTo reassume a staid simplicity.''4 TWILIGHT EFFECTS IN WORDSWORTH,"dim interspace between day and night," says thismost eloquent of critics, all disappears from ourearthly scenery, as if touched by an enchanter's rod,which is either mean, or inharmonious, or unquiet, orexpressive of temporary things. " Leaning against acolumn of rock, looking down upon a lake or river,and at intervals carrying your eye forward through avista of mountains, you become aware that your sightrests upon the very same spectacle, unaltered in asingle feature, which once at the same hour was be-held by the legionary Roman from his embattledcamp, or by the roving Briton in his * wolf-skin vest,'lying down to sleep, and looking * through some leafybower, before his eyes were closed.' " How magni-ficent, exclaims Wordsworth's fervid expositor, is thesummary or abstraction of the elementary featuresof such a scene, as executed by the poet himself, inillustration of this abstraction daily executed bynature, through her handmaid Twilight! "Listen,reader, to the closing strain, solemn as twilight issolemn, and grand as the spectacle which it describes :" By him [i,e. the roving Briton] was seenThe self-same vision which we now behold,At thy meek bidding, shadowy Power, brought forth.These mighty barriers, and the gulf between ;The floods, the stars, — a spectacle as oldAs the beginnings of the heavens and earth."From Mr. Tennyson, too, might be gathered an ampleseries of twilight effects ; whether of " large Hesper "TENNYSON, SIDNEY WALKER.glittering on the tears of Mariana in the South ; or of the same lonesome expectant in her moated grange,so tearful that she could not look on the sweet heavenat even-tide, though she did draw her casement-curtain by, and glance athwart the gloomy flats, afternight-fall ; or of the Gardener's Daughter's lover lin-gering till every daisy slept, and Love's white starbeamed through the thickened cedar in the dusk, andanon the heavens between their fairy fleeces pale" sowed all their mystic gulfs with fleeting stars." Atthe close of The Princess the happy guests sat on,'* so much the gathering darkness charmed : " sat on,

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