An August Midnight


A shaded lamp and a waving blind,
And the beat of a clock from a distant floor:
On this scene enter—winged, horned, and spined—
A longlegs, a moth, and a dumbledore;
While ‘mid my page there idly stands
A sleepy fly, that rubs its hands …


Thus meet we five, in this still place,
At this point of time, at this point in space.
—My guests besmear my new-penned line,
Or bang at the lamp and fall supine.
“God’s humblest, they!” I muse. Yet why?
They know Earth-secrets that know not I.

Thomas Hardy

The insect world is beginning to feel cooler nights as the house martins, in conference on the telephone wires, are considering departure dates for warmer climes. But domestic houses made by human hands are treacherously dangerous to flying birds, long-legs, moth or fly. And I feel an obligation, wherever possible, to upend my nightstand lampshade, to set free the little creatures who, as Hardy has it, are, for all their tininess, party to life experience not known to my eye.

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