by: George Sterling (1869-1926)

      ULL-STARRED, seraphic Night arose,
      Lifting the Pleiades' dim lyre
      Above that solitude where glows
      Rose-red Aldebaran's fire.
      Mute, ere the darkness could forget
      The crystal hour of evening's trance,
      I felt the little winds that set
      The mirrored stars a-dance.
      On restless leaves I heard them pass
      To touch the yellow vines that lay
      Like paler pythons in the grass,
      Beside a lonely way.
      To forest glades at last it led,
      By Silence chosen as her own:
      The pines' soft sighing overhead
      Seemed but her whispers flown.
      Scarcely it seemed to cross the bound
      Where she, aloof, stood sorceress--
      That twilight where the feet of sound
      Pass unto nothingness.
      A little weary of the speech
      Of burdened man and troubled sea,
      I stood and dreamed that time would teach
      Her dream of peace to me,
      And, awed by the communing night,
      Forgot the haggard world withdrawn,
      Ere on my face there fell a light
      As of a spectral dawn.
      It gleamed beyond the barring pine--
      That shattered silver of the moon--
      The midnight's asphodels divine
      On field and woodland strewn.
      Among the lesser trees it lay
      Like veiled and pallid ghosts that slept,
      About whose forms, as in dismay,
      The fearful shadows crept.
      But o'er the dale where Silence stood,
      With tranquil dews austerely crowned,
      A wilder glory touched the wood,--
      A sense of things profound.
      And subtlier on the enchanted air
      The moonlight's nacre seemed to melt,
      While mosses like a witch's hair
      Stirred to a wind unfelt.
      And, like a messenger of night,
      Mystical, ominous and slow,
      A fragile moth, in purposed flight,
      Went past on wings of snow.
      It may have been that elder pow'rs
      Stood, immaterial, in the glade;
      Perchance the moon's phantasmal flow'rs
      At shrines unseen were laid.
      For in those isles it seemed there shone
      Forsaken marbles, pure and cold--
      The gleam of altars overthrown
      And ghostly fanes of old.
      And since that hour the night can thrill
      With haunting chords by day unstirred,
      And Beauty's lips, refusing still,
      Move with a secret word.

"Moonlight in the Pines" is reprinted from The House of Orchids and Other Poems. George Sterling. San Francisco: A. M. Robertson, 1911.




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