I looked upon the Moon’s face, one evening warm and bright,
As near as a silver Matterhorn in the setting Sun alight;
That curving height of gleaming white on heaven’s dark blue did rise,
And then its rings of shadow
Were drawn upon my eyes.
The shadows there were those of men, now many years ago
When breathless on that mountainside, they saw the worlds below;
That desert land of shining sand with rich oases shone,
And beck’ning circle seas
And stately isles of stone.
O how that face was gazed upon, now many years ago,
Her beauty shone in every eye, each spirit burned below;
Her hidden arts in children’s hearts a lively picture drew,
And to her lovely shore
The hopes of nature flew.
Then came a day the stately craft, that courting ‘round her flew,
Received their fateful summonses, and soundlessly withdrew;
It happened so, she saw them go, nor ever to return,
And on the Earth below
No lamp or signal burn.
I watched the shining desert land ‘til I could look no more,
There were no spirits venturing to walk that mountain shore;
Behind a veil, now dark and pale the face of beauty lay,
Once loved and then abandoned
Forlorn and far away.
Where beauty shone in every eye, now gaze but one or two,
And all the ancient poets’ songs forgotten and untrue;
Across her white, in deepest night, the winds and shadows blow,
Her empty, glowing plains
And peaks in silence glow.
Then look upon the Moon’s face, though now the night is deep;
And gaze on that silver mountainside, though all the world’s asleep.
Where not a soul doth move or dwell, she looks across the sky
And all the worlds beyond
Are spread before her eye.
Paul Gallagher is a poet, translator and also an economics journalist. He has spent much of his life fighting for the revival of classical poetry and classical culture. More of his writings on culture can be found here.