Before going to bed, and upon rising in the morning, the task is taking the dogs out. That gives a bit of time to admire the view of the night sky, and over the years and miles I have learned to spot the differences that identify planets, and I can pick out Polaris on a clear night. Nights with clouds deprive me of the stars in those pre-dawn moments – but there is always a chance that the next rotation will return the stars for my viewing.
I don’t know when I ran across the phrase, “I have loved the stars too fondly to be fearful of the night.” Grade school possibly – definitely by early high school. With the internet the phrase, and its author are more available.
The excerpt from Sarah Williams’ poem is
“Though my soul may set in darkness, it will rise in perfect light;
I have loved the stars too truly to be fearful of the night.”
The poem is “The Old Astronomer to his Pupil”:
The Old Astronomer to his Pupil
Reach me down my Tycho Brahe, I would know him when we meet,
When I share my later science, sitting humbly at his feet;
He may know the law of all things, yet be ignorant of how
We are working to completion, working on from then to now.
Pray remember that I leave you all my theory complete,
Lacking only certain data for your adding, as is meet,
And remember men will scorn it, ’tis original and true,
And the obliquy of newness may fall bitterly on you.
But, my pupil, as my pupil you have learned the worth of scorn,
You have laughed with me at pity, we have joyed to be forlorn,
What for us are all distractions of men’s fellowship and wiles;
What for us the Goddess Pleasure with her meretricious smiles.
You may tell that German College that their honor comes too late,
But they must not waste repentance on the grizzly savant’s fate.
Though my soul may set in darkness, it will rise in perfect light;
I have loved the stars too fondly to be fearful of the night.
What, my boy, you are not weeping? You should save your eyes for sight;
You will need them, mine observer, yet for many another night.
I leave none but you, my pupil, unto whom my plans are known.
You “have none but me,” you murmur, and I “leave you quite alone”?
Well then, kiss me, — since my mother left her blessing on my brow,
There has been a something wanting in my nature until now;
I can dimly comprehend it, — that I might have been more kind,
Might have cherished you more wisely, as the one I leave behind.
I “have never failed in kindness”? No, we lived too high for strife,
Calmest coldness was the error which has crept into our life;
But your spirit is untainted, I can dedicate you still
To the service of our science: you will further it? you will!
There are certain calculations I should like to make with you,
To be sure that your deductions will be logical and true;
And remember, “Patience, Patience,” is the watchword of a sage,
Not to-day nor yet to-morrow can complete a perfect age.
I have sown, like Tycho Brahe, that a greater man may reap;
But if none should do my reaping, ’twill disturb me in my sleep
So be careful and be faithful, though, like me, you leave no name;
See, my boy, that nothing turn you to the mere pursuit of fame.
I must say Good-bye, my pupil, for I cannot longer speak;Sarah Williams
Draw the curtain back for Venus, ere my vision grows too weak:
It is strange the pearly planet should look red as fiery Mars,
God will mercifully guide me on my way amongst the stars.
Williams died at 31, during a surgery for the cancer that was destroying her in 1868.
1 thought on “I Have Loved the Stars”
Perhaps more poetry woukd be apt in schools. It trains a part of our brains that no longer seem to develop very much. Loved this.