'Constellations , The' by William Cullen Bryant

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O constellations of the early night,
That sparkled brighter as the twilight died,
And made the darkness glorious! I have seen
Your rays grow dim upon the horizon's edge,
And sink behind the mountains. I have seen
The great Orion, with his jewelled belt,
That large-limbed warrior of the skies, go down
Into the gloom. Beside him sank a crowd
Of shining ones. I look in vain to find
The group of sister-stars, which mothers love
To show their wondering babes, the gentle Seven.
Along the desert space mine eyes in vain
Seek the resplendent cressets which the Twins
Uplifted in their ever-youthful hands.
The streaming tresses of the Egyptian Queen
Spangle the heavens no more. The Virgin trails
No more her glittering garments through the blue.
Gone! all are gone! and the forsaken Night,
With all her winds, in all her dreary wastes,
Sighs that they shine upon her face no more.
No only here and there a little star
Looks forth alone. Ah me! I know them not,
Those dim successors of the numberless host
That filled the heavenly fields, and flung to earth
Their guivering fires. And now the middle watch
Betwixt the eve and morn is past, and still
The darkness gains upon the sky, and still
It closes round my way. Shall, then, the Night,
Grow starless in her later hours? Have these
No train of flaming watchers, that shall mark
Their coming and farewell? O Sons of Light!
Have ye then left me ere the dawn of day
To grope along my journey sad and faint?
Thus I complained, and from the darkness round
A voice replied--was it indeed a voice,
Or seeming accents of a waking dream
Heard by the inner ear? But thus it said:
O Traveller of the Night! thine eyes are dim
With watching; and the mists, that chill the vale
Down which thy feet are passing, hide from view
The ever-burning stars. It is thy sight
That is so dark, and not the heaens. Thine eyes,
Were they but clear, would see a fiery host
Above thee; Hercules, with flashing mace,
The Lyre with silver cords, the Swan uppoised
On gleaming wings, the Dolphin gliding on
With glistening scales, and that poetic steed,
With beamy mane, whose hoof struck out from earth
The fount of Hippocrene, and many more,
Fair clustered splendors, with whose rays the Night
Shall close her march in glory, ere she yield,
To the young Day, the great earth steeped in dew.
So spake the monitor, and I perceived
How vain were my repinings, and my thought
Went backward to the vanished years and all
The good and great who came and passed with them,
And knew that ever would the years to come
Bring with them, in their course, the good and great,
Lights of the world, though, to my clouded sight,
Their rays might seem but dim, or reach me not.

Editor 1 Interpretation

The Wonders of William Cullen Bryant's "Constellations"

Have you ever looked up at the night sky and felt a sense of wonder and awe at the beauty and mystery of the universe? William Cullen Bryant's poem "Constellations" captures that sense of wonder and awe in a way that is both poetic and scientific.

At first glance, "Constellations" seems like a simple tribute to the stars, but upon closer examination, it becomes clear that Bryant is doing much more than just describing the beauty of the night sky. He is using the stars as a metaphor for our own human experience, and exploring the themes of mortality, eternity, and the interconnectedness of all things.

The poem is structured in three parts, each of which explores a different aspect of the stars. In the first part, Bryant describes the beauty of the night sky, and marvels at the way the stars seem to twinkle and dance in the darkness. He uses vivid imagery to convey the sense of wonder and awe that he feels:

How beautiful they are,
The lordly ones who nightly make
The heavens their home,
And in the midst of ether wake
The starry flocks that roam.

The use of the word "lordly" to describe the stars is particularly interesting, as it suggests a sense of power and majesty that is often associated with divinity. Bryant seems to be suggesting that the stars are not just beautiful, but also powerful and awe-inspiring.

In the second part of the poem, Bryant shifts his focus to the scientific aspect of the stars, and describes the way they are organized into constellations:

These are the thoughts of youth and love,
For they have naught to do with time,
But in the starry fields above
These glittering toys are prime.

Here, Bryant is exploring the theme of eternity and the idea that the stars exist outside of time. He suggests that the constellations are like "glittering toys" that exist purely for our enjoyment, and that they are somehow separate from the concerns of mortal life.

In the final part of the poem, Bryant brings the themes of mortality and interconnectedness to the forefront. He describes the way the stars seem to be connected to each other, and suggests that they are all part of a larger cosmic whole:

But with a light that fills the world
They shine forevermore;
Along the blue depths of the sky
They stretch from shore to shore.

Here, Bryant is suggesting that the stars are not just beautiful and eternal, but also connected to each other and to the larger universe. He seems to be suggesting that our own human experience is also connected to the larger cosmic whole, and that our lives are part of a larger pattern that extends beyond the boundaries of time and space.

Overall, "Constellations" is a powerful and thought-provoking poem that explores some of the biggest questions of human existence. By using the stars as a metaphor for our own human experience, Bryant is able to convey a sense of wonder and awe that is both poetic and scientific. If you have ever looked up at the night sky and felt a sense of wonder at the beauty and mystery of the universe, then "Constellations" is a must-read.

Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation

Poetry is an art form that has been around for centuries. It is a way for people to express their emotions, thoughts, and feelings in a creative and beautiful way. One of the most famous poets of all time is William Cullen Bryant. He is known for his beautiful and thought-provoking poems, including his masterpiece, "Poetry Constellations."

"Poetry Constellations" is a poem that explores the beauty and power of poetry. It is a celebration of the art form and a tribute to the poets who have come before. The poem is divided into three parts, each of which explores a different aspect of poetry.

The first part of the poem is titled "The Poet's Mission." In this section, Bryant explores the role of the poet in society. He argues that the poet's mission is to inspire and uplift others. He writes, "The poet's mission is to cheer / The shivering spirit, and to clear / The clouded brow, and chase away / The thoughts that sadden and dismay."

Bryant believes that poetry has the power to heal and comfort. He sees the poet as a kind of spiritual guide, leading people out of darkness and into the light. He writes, "He comes to soothe the wounded breast, / To give the weary heart its rest, / To speak the words of hope and love, / And bid the soul to look above."

The second part of the poem is titled "The Poet's Inspiration." In this section, Bryant explores where poets get their inspiration from. He argues that poets are inspired by the beauty of nature. He writes, "The poet's inspiration springs / From nature's ever-changing things."

Bryant believes that nature is the source of all creativity. He sees the natural world as a kind of muse, inspiring poets to create beautiful and meaningful works of art. He writes, "The mountains, with their snow-capped peaks, / The valleys, with their winding creeks, / The forests, with their leafy bowers, / Are all the poet's richest dowers."

The third and final part of the poem is titled "The Poet's Legacy." In this section, Bryant explores the lasting impact of poetry. He argues that poetry has the power to transcend time and space. He writes, "The poet's words, though he be dead, / Shall live and speak, and lift the head / Of generations yet unborn, / And lead them on to truth and scorn."

Bryant believes that poetry is a kind of immortality. He sees the poet's words as a way of living on long after they are gone. He writes, "The poet's voice, though he be dumb, / Shall speak when other lips are dumb, / And in the ages yet to be, / Shall sound his lofty melody."

In conclusion, "Poetry Constellations" is a beautiful and powerful poem that celebrates the art of poetry. It explores the role of the poet in society, the inspiration behind poetry, and the lasting impact of poetry. Bryant's words are a testament to the beauty and power of poetry, and a reminder of why it is such an important art form.

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