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To Night by Percy Bysshe Shelley


"To Night" is a poem written by Percy Bysshe Shelley. This poem somewhat personifies "night". Shelley is wishing that night will come and cover all the lands with its beauty so it can bring him dreams of "joy and fear". He goes on to say that when dawn comes, he only wishes night to be back so he can dream once again. However, death (night's brother) came and took away a child. Shelley asks, "Why?", and then he asks for both death and night to come soon. The poem is simply about the death of a child and Shelley's grieving.

"To Night" is a five stanza poem with seven lines in each. The first stanza goes 8-4-8-8-8-8-4 syllables and is written in iambic foot. Therefore, the poem is written in both iambic-quadrameter and iambic-biameter. However, not all stanzas follow this pattern. Some stanzas are written in 8-3-8-8-8-8-3 and are written in iambic-quadrameter and triambic foot.


To Night

Swiftly walk o'er the western wave,
Spirit of Night!
Out of the misty eastern cave,
Where, all the long and lone daylight,
Thou wovest dreams of joy and fear,
Which make thee terrible and dear--
Swift be thy flight!

Wrap thy form in a mantle gray,
Blind with thine hair the eyes of day;
Kiss her until she be wearied out,
Then wander o'er city, and sea, and land,
Touching all with thine opiate wand--
Come, long-sought!

When I arose and saw the dawn,
I sighed for thee;
When light rode high, and the dew was gone,
And noon lay heavy on flower and tree,
And the weary day turned to his rest,
Lingering like an unloved guest,
I sighed for thee.

Thy brother Death came, and cried,
Wouldst thou me?
Thy sweet child Sleep, the filmy-eyed,
Murmured like a noontide bee,
Shall I nestle near thy side?
Wouldst thou me?--And I replied,
No, not thee!

Death will come when thou art dead,
Soon, too soon--
Sleep will come when thou art fled;
Of neither would I ask the boon
I ask of thee, beloved Night--
Swift be thine approaching flight,
Come soon, soon.

Next: To the Moon
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Literary Movement
Romanticism, 18th Century

Night, Death, Dream, Grief

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