Poetry Sunday: A June Night by Emma Lazarus

Emma Lazarus is well-known for her poem "The New Colossus" that was written in honor of the arrival of the Statue of Liberty in New York. But she wasn't just a one hit wonder as this poem describing a June night shows. I think she caught the spirit of the night just about perfectly. 

A June Night

by Emma Lazarus

Ten o'clock: the broken moon
Hangs not yet a half hour high,
Yellow as a shield of brass,
In the dewy air of June,
Poised between the vaulted sky
And the ocean's liquid glass.

Earth lies in the shadow still;
Low black bushes, trees, and lawn
Night's ambrosial dews absorb;
Through the foliage creeps a thrill,
Whispering of yon spectral dawn
And the hidden climbing orb.

Higher, higher, gathering light,
Veiling with a golden gauze
All the trembling atmosphere,
See, the rayless disk grows white!
Hark, the glittering billows pause!

Faint, far sounds possess the ear.
Elves on such a night as this
Spin their rings upon the grass;
On the beach the water-fay
Greets her lover with a kiss;
Through the air swift spirits pass,
Laugh, caress, and float away.

Shut thy lids and thou shalt see
Angel faces wreathed with light,
Mystic forms long vanished hence.
Ah, too fine, too rare, they be
For the grosser mortal sight,
And they foil our waking sense.

Yet we feel them floating near,
Know that we are not alone,
Though our open eyes behold
Nothing save the moon's bright sphere,
In the vacant heavens shown,
And the ocean's path of gold.


  1. A lovely poem. It seems odd that all the stanzas are six lines yet one is only five.

    1. You know, I hadn't really noticed that until you pointed it out! Poet's choice, I guess.

  2. I don't ever really think of Emma Lazarus as having written other poems besides The New Colossus. Thanks for sharing this one. I love the fourth stanza especially.

    1. I know - same here, so I was especially delighted to find this poem last week and to have a chance to share it here.

  3. Some absolutely lovely imagery in this poem.

    1. Indeed. She certainly had a wonderful way of describing things in Nature.

  4. The third stanza has just five lines, and the fourth stanza has seven. Interesting.

    I spent a lot of June nights outside until it was very late when I was a kid.

    1. Lazarus obviously did not feel constrained by poetic "rules"!


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