Reflections on Night

The night sky has been a muse to writers through the ages. To gaze upon the stars and rising Milky Way is to join the past with the present, the self with the infinite. Poets capture something of this mystery for readers to ponder. National parks, too, are places of refuge where visitors can contemplate celestial wonder. From the desert to the mountains, skies over many of our nation’s parks give spectacular, naturally dark views to the night.

The NPS Natural Sounds and Night Skies Division invites you to #findyourpark and discover the night. In the meantime, we hope this selection of delightful, night-themed reflections will inspire!

Sun Sutra

Dana Levin, from SKY BURIAL, Copper Canyon Press, 2011

Photo: Milky Way brightly arches over Devils Tower National Monument, Wyoming, Department of Interor-America's Great Outdoors/D. Lane

photo poem composite

The Moon Was But A Chin of Gold

Emily Dickinson, The Complete Poems, Boston: Little Brown, 1824

Photo: A slip of crescent moon illuminates the night, NASA

Poem Photo Composite shows crescent moon and words to poem


Ralph Waldo Emerson, excerpt from Nature, Boston: James Munroe and Co, 1836

Photo: A silhouetted stargazer looks to the sky at Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming/Montana, NPS/Neal Herbert

Poem photo composite shows words to an essay with scene of a stargazer looking into the night

The Old Astronomer to his Pupil

Sara Williams, Twilight Hours: A Legacy of Verse, Strahan & Co., 1868

Photo: The Milky Way rises and the tide recedes in this night view from Acadia National Park, Maine, NPS

Photo poem composite, The Old Astronomer, with image of a night sky coastal scene


from the writings of Jalal al-Din Rumi, 1207-1273

Photo: Concentric star trails swirl above snow-capped peaks at Lassen Volcanic National Park, California, NPS/Gaylourd McCurdy

Stair trails swirl above Lassen Volcanic National Park, CA

Somebody Has To

Shel Silverstein, A Light in the Attic, Harper & Row, 1981

Photo: An ancient Bristlecone pine tree frames this view of a star-filled sky, Great Basin National Park, Nevada, NPS

photo poem composite shows words to Shel Silverstein's poem with night sky landscape

Last updated: December 13, 2018