The Waning Moon

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I've watched too late; the morn is near;
  One look at God's broad silent sky!
Oh, hopes and wishes vainly dear,
  How in your very strength ye die!

Even while your glow is on the cheek,
  And scarce the high pursuit begun,
The heart grows faint, the hand grows weak,
  The task of life is left undone.

See where upon the horizon's brim,
  Lies the still cloud in gloomy bars;
The waning moon, all pale and dim,
  Goes up amid the eternal stars.

Late, in a flood of tender light,
  She floated through the ethereal blue,
A softer sun, that shone all night
  Upon the gathering beads of dew.

And still thou wanest, pallid moon!
  The encroaching shadow grows apace;
Heaven's everlasting watchers soon
  Shall see thee blotted from thy place.

Oh, Night's dethroned and crownless queen!
  Well may thy sad, expiring ray
Be shed on those whose eyes have seen
  Hope's glorious visions fade away.

Shine thou for forms that once were bright,
  For sages in the mind's eclipse,
For those whose words were spells of might,
  But falter now on stammering lips!

In thy decaying beam there lies
  Full many a grave on hill and plain,
Of those who closed their dying eyes
  In grief that they had lived in vain.

Another night, and thou among
  The spheres of heaven shalt cease to shine,
All rayless in the glittering throng
  Whose lustre late was quenched in thine.

Yet soon a new and tender light
  From out thy darkened orb shall beam,
And broaden till it shines all night
  On glistening dew and glimmering stream.

© William Cullen Bryant