“Moon hangs, almost full
pieces of cloud scatter,
glide in soft, summer breeze.
We lay in our meadow
listening to the sound of night….”
Daniel James Burt, ‘Meadow Again’

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“Moonlight is sculpture; sunlight is painting.” Nathaniel Hawthorne

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“Her antiquity in preceding and surviving succeeding tellurian generations: her nocturnal predominance: her satellitic dependence: her luminary reflection: her constancy under all her phases, rising and setting by her appointed times, waxing and waning: the forced invariability of her aspect: her indeterminate response to inaffirmative interrogation: her potency over effluent and refluent waters: her power to enamour, to mortify, to invest with beauty, to render insane, to incite to and aid delinquency: the tranquil inscrutability of her visage: the terribility of her isolated dominant resplendent propinquity: her omens of tempest and of calm: the stimulation of her light, her motion and her presence: the admonition of her craters, her arid seas, her silence: her splendour, when visible: her attraction, when invisible.” James Joyce, Ulysses

Evening meanderings were very much a part of our childhood world. We’d get out the house after tea most nights with homework done and chores complete. I’d call for Bally and Tomo and we’d walk.

There’d only be a vague purposefulness to the walk, perhaps to watch the tawny owl’s bisect the field from beech tump to the rotten oak at the field bottom. Or perhaps a longer walk to wait clumsily above the badger set along the track from Statham’s Farm. Staying upwind and silent wasn’t quite our way – it was the excuse for a walk we needed not necessarily the seeing.

Ours were companionable night walks along the lanes above or below the village. They were local affairs, we’d not voyage far. It was our patch. We were familiars.

We’d walk, and talk loudly (where the path was darkest) and expansively about this or that. We’d end with a knock-about game of football on the steep and shadowy village hall field – how did we see the ball? If the season were right perhaps we’d ‘dare’ a scrumping through the allotment that ran alongside the football field – often ending with handfuls of bestubbled broad beans or bitter cookers neither much of an after-dark snack.

The village was safe. It was known and knowable.

Down ‘Bath Fields’ we’d share ghosts stories on the spoil heap outside Riber Mine and scare each other silly. Or we’d tree climb and jump from the highest branch out into darkness.

I’ve a nostalgia for the darkness of those night walks; for the village, and it’s surrounding fields and lanes and woodlands, held no fear for us at all. The sighs, the scurryings and silhouettes were what they were – just trees and night animals; the breeze; the earth settling after the warmth of the day. We had a simple relationship with it all. We were part of it, and it was part of us.

“In the country the darkness of night is friendly and familiar, but in a city, with its blaze of lights, it is unnatural, hostile and menacing. It is like a monstrous vulture that hovers, biding its time.” W. Somerset Maugham

***

“A man is a very small thing, and the night is very large and full of wonders.” Edward Plunkett

“I often think that the night is more alive and more richly coloured than the day.” Vincent Van Gogh

“The day has eyes; the night has ears.” David Fergusson

“What can we gain by sailing to the moon if we are not able to cross the abyss that separates us from ourselves? This is the most important of all voyages of discovery, and without it, all the rest are not only useless, but disastrous.” Thomas Merton

“They dined on mince, and slices of quince, Which they ate with a runcible spoon; And hand in hand, on the edge of the sand, They danced by the light of the moon.” Edward Lear

“Everyone is a moon, and has a dark side which he never shows to anybody.” Mark Twain

“The moon is friend for the lonesome to talk to.” Carl Sandburg

“There may be trouble ahead But while there’s moonlight and music and love and romance Let’s face the music and dance.” Irving Berlin

“The last light has gone out of the world, except This moonlight lying on the grass like frost Beyond the brink of the tall elm’s shadow.” (Philip) Edward Thomas

“We are going to the moon that is not very far. Man has so much farther to go within himself.” Anaïs Nin

“In this decayed hole among the mountains In the faint moonlight, the grass is singing Over the tumbled graves.” T S Eliot

***

“The moon had been observing the earth close-up longer than anyone. It must have witnessed all of the phenomena occurring – and all of the acts carried out – on this earth. But the moon remained silent; it told no stories. All it did was embrace the heavy past with a cool, measured detachment. On the moon there was neither air nor wind. Its vacuum was perfect for preserving memories unscathed. No one could unlock the heart of the moon. Aomame raised her glass to the moon and asked, “Have you gone to bed with someone in your arms lately?”

The moon did not answer.

“Do you have any friends?” she asked.

The moon did not answer.

“Don’t you get tired of always playing it cool?”

The moon did not answer.” Haruki Murakami, 1Q84

***

“Stars are the daisies that begem
The blue fields of the sky.”
D.M. Moir

“We spend our midday sweat, our midnight oil;
We tire the night in thought, the day in toil.”
Francis Quarles

***

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