I heard the trailing garments of the Night
Sweep through her marble halls!
I saw her sable skirts all fringed with light
From the celestial walls!

I felt her presence, by its spell of might,
Stoop o’er me from above;
The calm, majestic presence of the Night,
As of the one I love.

I heard the sounds of sorrow and delight,
The manifold, soft chimes,
That fill the haunted chambers of the Night
Like some old poet’s rhymes.

From the cool cisterns of the midnight air
My spirit drank repose;
The fountain of perpetual peace flows there,–
From those deep cisterns flows.

O holy Night! from thee I learn to bear
What man has borne before!
Thou layest thy finger on the lips of Care,
And they complain no more.

Peace! Peace! Orestes-like I breathe this prayer!
Descend with broad-winged flight,
The welcome, the thrice-prayed for, the most fair,
The best-beloved Night!

Analysis, meaning and summary of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's poem Hymn to the Night

6 Comments

  1. Leonard Wilson says:

    This poem is Longfellow’s tribute to the consolation that night and peace can bring. He personifies Night, portraying her as a goddess, clad in black skirts “fringed with light,” bending over us lovingly and laying her “finger on the lips of care.” The calm of night can help us to bear the sorrows that come to all of us, bringing us rest and a welcome release from stress. The poet invokes this goddess of peace, praying to her to descend upon him with solace.

    Orestes, cited in the last stanza, is a character from the Greek legends of the Trojan War and its aftermath. Orestes’ father, Agamemnon, was an important Greek leader who was away for 10 years fighting the war, and then was murdered upon his return by his own wife, Clytemnestra, who had taken a lover during his absence. Orestes avenged his father’s death by killing his mother and her lover, and for this, he was pursued and tormented endlessly by the Furies until finally Appollo rescued him from their torture and granted his anguished prayer for peace.

  2. Amber says:

    I have to disagree with Joe. Yes it is true that at this moment in time this poem could represent any peaceful night, but in the 19th century there was really no hustle and bustle of cars and noise. Today this poem could be interpreted differently, but during Longfellows time there had to have been another reason why the night seemed so peaceful.

  3. JOE says:

    I DON’T NECESSARILY THINK THIS POEM HAS TO DO WITH HIS WIFE. ANYONE WHO HAS STOOD OUTSIDE THEIR HOUSE AT MIDNIGHT, WHEN THE REST OF THE WORLD IS ASLEEP, CAN SENSE THE PEACE OF THE NIGHT HE IS TALKING ABOUT. NO NOISE, NO TRAFFIC, NO HUSTLE AND BUSTLE OF THE DAY, JUST THE STARS OVERHEAD AND QUIET.

  4. Miguel says:

    He lost his wife ,but i think his wife like a tender angel always in his life ,in his dream ,in his night.

  5. says:

    I have recently read this for the teacher’s request. It really is a good one which is maybe famous for its sentencetype in good order or the regular rhymes. I like it.

  6. Noreen says:

    I think that this poem represents the loss of his wife. He is thinking of her in the night and hears her sounds that he no longer has. She is his angel, hence why he mentions the wings of flight into the night, perhaps he senses her there with him in spirit and this is why her writes the poem. Because he has been borne to bare the burden of his loss of his love.

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