The Sons of Light


Darkness and Light

Fair, strong and splendid, summoned for delight,
creatures released from bondage, Dark and Light
sprang out of troubled chaos, depth and height,
the one all shadow, the other all things bright,
to go their separate ways of day and night.

Then the earth from water rose,
bare hill and empty plain:
then the seas by shores were bound,
then came both dew and rain.
The elements were set
where nothing was before,
strong pillars to uphold the world
steadfast evermore.

First of light's children, the horses of the sun,
flame plumed wings and hooves of fire,
paw the clouds, tossing unbridled heads
waiting a charioteer before they run,
waiting a god to master all their power,
stand on the rim of morning, champing to be away
across the sky to run the course of day.

Now mount plumed god and drive your shining team
up towards noon, climb the great arc of sky:
the dazzled plains lie shadowless below
until you turn downhill and shadows stream
longer and longer, and cool on earth they lie
till last and furthest ocean takes your rein,
stables your weary steeds until day breaks again.

Rise moon, cold crescent of reflected fire,
make night all silver now gold day is done,
shine on dark waters of each summer pool,
shine on the ice where mountain ranges tower:
step lightly as you walk the sky alone
above the sleeping forests where musks and spices grow,
above swan-feathered plains of arctic snow.

Each month is marked
with a starry sign,
a long procession
they march in line.
They cross the night
and year by year
in order due
they reappear.
The milky way
is broad and clear;
Charles's wain
and Cassiopeia,
hunter and hero,
the empty chair
and the crown of stars
are gathered there.
Light climbs the darkness
with stars that lie
in constellation
and galaxy.
Unnamed they wait
till man arise,
steersman and shepherd
with watching eyes
that by land and water
will see the skies.
Man will live by the sun
and the changing moon
and the distant stars
till Time is done.


The song of the Zodiac

Every night of the year there shines
one of the Zodiac's twelve signs.

Run, young Ram, through fields of spring,
cloud meadows high,
the story begins
when you cross the sky.
Horns white curved like a crescent moon,
golden ring, bright eye,
summer comes soon
when the Bull goes by.

Warrior Twins, brother and brother,
adventuring far
ride by each other
as star beside star.
Sideways he goes, sideways he will go
in peace or war,
not fast, not slow,
so all Crabs are.

Come summer Lion, come tawny beast[,]
stalk through the night
from sleep released,
come, Lion, proud and bright.
Harvest comes when the Virgin follows,
the dew is white
when the swallows
gather for flight.

Magic is balanced in the Scales,
swing high, swing low,
the autumn gales
and all winds blow.
Mailed Scorpion has a deadly sting,
as sharp as woe,
and he is king
of creeping ones below.

Brave Archer, bow bent in air, take aim,
what will you slay?
What lurking game
at the edge of day?
Folly and folly shall dance with you,
caper, be gay,
frisk all night through,
dance, Goat, while you may.

Is it the water of life you hold[,]
Water Bearer, in your jar,
for young and old,
carried from far?
Silver linked swimmers, shimmer of scales,
dark weed, cool fins,
thus ends the tale
that the Ram begins.

Every night of the year there shines
one of the Zodiac's twelve signs.


Messengers of Speech

Now came winged messengers to be man's speech,
serene and splendid, thronging all the sky
with songs and stories and legends to be told
of man's dominion and his majesty.

Before Time started in Time's words they spoke,
as if man's voice already cried from far,
from the deep thought wherein he slept
still two days younger than the morning star.

This is the morning of the sons of light,
rejoice because they start upon their way;
singing they go, each clothed in his own day,
their orbits span the terrors of the height,
swifter than wind, as swift as thought, their flight.

Sing and rejoice, vast darkness, that you share
in equal splendour and in equal power
the glory of creation's earliest hour.
Light shines in scattered jewels that you wear
and sleep the gift that lies within your care.

Light shall be light for ever and the darkness night.
Man shall awake and speak their names aloud
and set a name on fire and wind and cloud
from whence all living creatures take delight.
Rejoice, man stands among the sons of light.

—Ursula Wood, with a few verbal alterations
     by Ralph Vaughan Williams.