One hour ago the red- hot sun below the bright horizon sank.
The long midsummer day is done. Our boat is moored beneath the bank.
The glory of the crimson west dies slowly on the river's breast.
The water- violet shuts its eye; the water- lily petals close;
So in the evening light we lie and dream in undisturbed repose.
How far all petty cares have flown! How calm the fretful world has grown!
We only hear the gentle breeze, in soft, delicious whispers, pass
Through osier beds and alder trees, and rustling flags and bending grass;
The song of blackbird in the hedge, the quack of wild duck in the sedge.
The distant bark of farmhouse dogs, the piping of a clear- voiced thrush;
The murmurous babble of the frogs, of rippling stream in reed and rush;
The splash of hungry trout that rise to passing gnats and dragon- flies.
Sounds that make silence eloquent, but cannot break it, nor dispel
The tranquil sense of still content that holds us like enchanter's spell —
At rest and free, in this lone fen, from noise of streets and striving men.
What perfume in these dewy hours the rich earth to the soft air yields!
Sweetbriar and bean and clover flowers breathe incense from the quiet fields;
And every whiff that comes this way brings fragrant scent of new- mown hay.
A long- legged heron stalks about that marshy meadow, seeking food;
A little water- hen creeps out close by us, with her paddling brood;
A water- rat, in blank surprise, stares at us with his beady eyes.
The swallow lingers, and the swift, like arrow from a bow, darts by;
Light clouds of little midges drift between us and the tender sky;
Cockchafers hum as they whir past. But the hushed twilight gathers fast.
All Nature takes her happy ease, and we no more can fume and fret.
No inward questions taunt and tease. All life's disasters we forget —
All life's injustice we forgive. To- night it is enough to live.
No time is this to talk of books — no time vexed problems to discuss
Through all the upward spirit looks, and sees that Good is meant for us —
Sees more in these transparent skies than in all wise philosophies.
* * * * *
The western glories fade and pass. The twilight deepens more and more.
A thin mist, like a breath on glass, veils shining stream and distant shore;
And night is falling, still and cool, on each broad marsh and silent pool.
The moor- hen paddles in the weeds no longer, for her chicks are fed;
The heron, rising from the reeds, goes slowly sailing home to bed;
Just now, from off that mossy bank, the little brown rat slipped and sank.
Night comes at length. The last pale gleam of lingering day has disappeared.
On silent fields and quiet stream a few stars shine; the mist has cleared;
The willows of the further shore stand outlined on the sky once more.
No hum of gnat or bee is heard; no pipe of thrush on hawthorn bough;
No cry of any beast or bird to stir the solemn stillness now,
Though all the soundless air is rife with latent energies of life
Only a vagrant bat we see on silken pinion flitting by;
Only a white owl, roaming free, with downy wings and steadfast eye;
Two ghostly visions in their flight — two noiseless shadows of the night.
How clear the darkness, and how fine the plumes upon those bulbous stumps!
A luminous greyness seems to shine behind those serried osier clumps;
And sharper in the pallid glow the stems of flag and bulrush grow.
A faint dawn breaks on yonder sedge, and broadens in that bed of weeds;
A bright disc shows its radiant edge, the round moon rises from the reeds;
Its level rays of silver glide across the steel- dark river tide.
They burnish steel to silver bright — a mirror for an angel meet;
They bridge it with a bridge of light — fit pathway for an angel's feet;
If angel feet and angel face haunt mortal creatures' dwelling place.
The widening track of glory streams to this low margin where we sit;
My sight swims in its dazzling beams, and heart and brain are steeped in it —
Are washed from all the dust and grime, the smears and tears, of working time.
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"Nightfall In The Fens" Poetry.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2019. Web. 21 Nov. 2019. <https://www.poetry.net/poem/81/nightfall-in-the-fens>.