Wednesday, June 18, 2008

In Moonlight

The man in the moon woke me up last night, as surely as if he had rapped on my window. Having made his way across the back garden during the night, he topped the trees surrounding the house and popped, full strength, through the lace curtains, past sleeping Edward, and right into my eyes like a winking giant. It’s hard to be miffed over some lost sleep when the garden atmosphere created by a full moon is so lovely. I had to get up and take a look. The deep shadows, the glow of the white flowers, the otherworldly light a full moon provides enables an alternate reality to exist in one’s very own garden. No wonder Vita Sackville-West created her famed white garden at Sissinghurst. She obviously appreciated the grand old man in the moon, as well. Can you imagine that garden in moonlight? Atkinson Grimshaw, whose painting, Silver Moonlight, is above, created many magical pictures of moonlight, and Longfellow must have experienced a moonlit night or two in his time, as evidenced by his sublime poem on the topic.
There’s a full moon tonight. Remember to take a look!

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

As a pale phantom with a lamp
Ascends some ruin's haunted stair,
So glides the moon along the damp
Mysterious chambers of the air.

Now hidden in cloud, and now revealed,
As if this phantom, full of pain,
Were by the crumbling walls concealed,
And at the windows seen again.

Until at last, serene and proud
In all the splendor of her light,
She walks the terraces of cloud,
Supreme as Empress of the Night.

I look, but recognize no more
Objects familiar to my view;
The very pathway to my door
Is an enchanted avenue.

All things are changed. One mass of shade,
The elm-trees drop their curtains down;
By palace, park, and colonnade
I walk as in a foreign town.

The very ground beneath my feet
Is clothed with a diviner air;
While marble paves the silent street
And glimmers in the empty square.

Illusion! Underneath there lies
The common life of every day;
Only the spirit glorifies
With its own tints the sober gray.

In vain we look, in vain uplift
Our eyes to heaven, if we are blind;
We see but what we have the gift
Of seeing; what we bring we find.


  1. What a beautiful post! I know what you mean about white flowers. A friend of mine has a rooftop garden on his house, and he plants only white-blossoming plants, so at night it is quite a magical spot from which to gaze upon the city.

    I visited Sissinghurst, but only during the daytime. I was lucky enough to know a family who worked there and lived in one of the adjoining workers' cottages and got to hang out with their Guernsey herd. I think it was Guernsey's or Jersey cows - the honey coloured ones with extra big, brown eyes. :)

    Please give Edward a pat for me.

  2. What a beautiful, magical post! There certainly is something enigmatic about moonlight, isn't there? I, myself, have mainly white blooms in my garden. Also, thank you for adding me onto your blog roll! So nice of you. I certainly will do the same!

  3. Moonlight is enchanting, isn't it? The Grimshaw painting is marvelous and I absolutely adore Longfellow... I am adding your lovely spot to my "peeps" list, too. :)

  4. Hello Pamela.. thanks for visiting me at the Hermitage... pleased to meet you and Edward and the lovely place you have here :)
    Sending best wishes from Scotland, which is a bit hazy and grey this morning...

  5. Enchanting post, and haunting image. I am new to your blog and it is really lovely. Moonlight is pure enchantment.... I blogged about moonlight with image and poem here:,

    (it may interest you.) Thanks for the poem you posted today, it's beautiful.

  6. There really is something so magical about moonlight. Beautiful post & image and wonderful Longfellow poem.


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