Hymn To The Night

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!

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

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Footsteps of Angels

When the hours of Day are numbered,
And the voices of the Night
Wake the better soul, that slumbered,
To a holy, calm delight;

Ere the evening lamps are lighted,
And, like phantoms grim and tall,
Shadows from the fitful firelight
Dance upon the parlor wall;

Then the forms of the departed
Enter at the open door;
The beloved, the true-hearted,
Come to visit me once more;

He, the young and strong, who cherished
Noble longings for the strife,
By the roadside fell and perished,
Weary with the march of life!

They, the holy ones and weakly,
Who the cross of suffering bore,
Folded their pale hands so meekly,
Spake with us on earth no more!

And with them the Being Beauteous,
Who unto my youth was given,
More than all things else to love me,
And is now a saint in heaven.

With a slow and noiseless footstep
Comes that messenger divine,
Takes the vacant chair beside me,
Lays her gentle hand in mine.

And she sits and gazes at me
With those deep and tender eyes,
Like the stars, so still and saint-like,
Looking downward from the skies.

Uttered not, yet comprehended,
Is the spirit’s voiceless prayer,
Soft rebukes, in blessings ended,
Breathing from her lips of air.

Oh, though oft depressed and lonely,
All my fears are laid aside,
If I but remember only
Such as these have lived and died!

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

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O Death, Where is Thy Sting?

Faith, only the faith that looks to the Creator and that He inspires, radiates from itself the supreme and decisive truths condemning what is and what is not. Reality is transfigured. The heavens glorify the Lord. The prophets and apostles cry in ecstasy, “O death, where is thy sting? Hell, where is thy victory?” And all announce: “Eye hath not seen, non ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him.”

Lev Shestov

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The Ideal Artist

Thus it is that ideas, which grow up within the imagination and appear so lovely to it and of a value beyond whatever men call valuable, are exposed to be shattered and annihilated by contact with the practical. It is requisite for the ideal artist to possess a force of character that seems hardly compatible with its delicacy; he must keep his faith in himself while the incredulous world assails him with its utter disbelief; he must stand up against mankind and be his own sole disciple, both as respects his genius and the objects to which it is directed.

Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Artist of the Beautiful

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Delight Alone!

In the surging swell
Where joys abound,
In perfumed wavelets’
Trembling sound,
In the world’s soft breathing
Whisp’ring round –
To drown thus – sink down thus
– all thought gone – delight alone!

Last lines of Wagner’s Tristan

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The Wanderer

I come down from the mountains
The valley dims, the sea roars.
I wander silently and am somewhat unhappy.
And my sighs always ask “where?”

The sun seems so cold to me here,
The flowers faded, the life old,
And what they say has an empty sound;
I am a stranger everywhere.

Where are you, my dear land?
Sought and brought to mind, yet never known,
That land, so hopefully green,
That land where my roses bloom.

Where my friends wander
Where my dead ones rise from the dead.
That land where they speak my language,
Oh land, where are you?

I wander silently and am somewhat unhappy,
And my sighs always ask “where?”
In a ghostly breath it calls back to me,
“There, where you are not, there is your happiness.”

George Philip Schmidt

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Justice

In truth, no one has a greater claim to our veneration than he who possesses the drive to and strength for justice. For the highest and rarest virtues are united and concealed in justice as in an unfathomable ocean that receives streams and rivers from all sides and takes them into itself. The hand of the just man who is empowered to judge no longer trembles when it holds the scales; he sets weight upon weight with inexorable disregard for himself, his eye is unclouded as it sees the scales rise and fall, his voice is neither harsh nor tearful when he pronounces the verdict.

Nietzsche, On the Advantage and Disadvantage of History for Life

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