Henry Beston on Night (1928)

“Our fantastic civilization has fallen out of touch with many aspects of nature, and with none more completely than night. Primitive folk, gathered at a cave mouth round a fire, do not fear night; they fear, rather, the energies and creatures to whom night gives power; we of the age of the machines, having delivered ourselves of nocturnal enemies, now have a dislike of night itself. With lights and ver more lights, we drive the holiness and beauty of night back to the forests and the sea; the little villages, the crossroads even, will have none of it. Are modern folk, perhaps, afraid of the night? Do they fear that vast serenity, the mystery of infinite space, the austerity of the stars? Having made themselves at home in a civilization obsessed with power, which explains its whole world in terms of energy, do they fear at night for their dull acquiescence and the pattern of their beliefs? Be the answer what it will, to-day’s civilization is full of people who have not the slightest notion of the character or the poetry of night, who have never even seen night. Yet to live thus, to know only artificial night, is as absurd and evil as to know only artificial day.”

Henry Beston, 1928

that night

2 thoughts on “Henry Beston on Night (1928)

  1. Night reminds us of how vulnerable and powerless we truly are, which clashes with our ever-inflating arrogance. Many of us will do all we can to not have to confront our own frailty, which will paradoxically be our undoing. The funny thing is that when we talk about ‘environmental crises’ or ‘killing the planet,’ that ultimately the Earth will eventually rebound. We just might not be around to witness it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, I do agree. I often think to the series The World Without Us, which depicts, as speculation by scientists, engineers, and environmental experts, what would become of the world if humans vanished. It is also directly in line with Alan Weisman’s book, The World Without Us. Having been released only a year apart from each other, I’m not sure if they have any relation, but I recommend. It is an interesting perspective.

      Liked by 1 person

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