Starlight At Sea
Overhead the countless stars
Like eyes of love were beaming,
Underneath the weary Earth
All breathless lay a-dreaming.
The twilight hours like birds flew by,
As lightly and as free;
Ten thousand stars were in the sky,
Ten thousand in the sea.
For every wave with dimpled face
That leaped upon the air
Had caught a star in its embrace
And held it trembling there.
Amelia B. Welby – circa 1890
The romance of the skies is almost lost in today’s modern world as it is hard to put stars in your lover’s eyes. Not the horoscope kind of stars. Oh no. I’m talking about the canopy of twinkling images seen from a swaying, backyard swing.
Light pollution has robbed our backyards of starlight, and technology has virtually brought the world—and Universe—into the comfy confines of our homes via television and personal computers.
What ever happened to Stardust, When You Wish Upon a Star and other great songs influenced by those twinkling orbs?
When people hear that I’m that “Stargazer,” I’m sometimes taken aback because they think I’m a fan of Hollywood movie stars! Well, I am. But I leave that department to The Loafer’s movie columnist, Ken Silvers!
The point is those twinkling lights that used to dazzle the senses and provoke some amorous thoughts in music and literature are all but forgotten.
When was the last time you wondered about a twinkling star? Or made a wish upon a shooting star?
Twinkle, twinkle little star
how I wonder what you are…
up above the world so high,,
like a diamond in the sky.
Twinkle, twinkle little star
how I wonder what you are!
The familiar melody is from an 18th Century French children’s rhyme, with the original lyrics being about candy. Johann Sebastian Bach supposedly played the tune. But the lyrics we are familiar with go back to 1806 and were written by Jane Taylor.
Every Baby-Boomer knows Jiminy Cricket, and can probably sing When You Wish Upon A Star. The animated insect was a cutesy regular on the 1960s Wonderful World of Walt Disney, and for years, the song opened the show. But Jiminy introduced the song on the 1940 animated feature Pinocchio.
Written by Ned Washington and Leigh Harline, the American Film Academy ranks When You Wish Upon a Star as the seventh in the top 100 film songs of all time—Disney’s highest ranked song. It is the official horn notes of Disney Cruises and Magic.
Here’s the lyrics to that stellar homily:
When you wish upon a star,
Makes no different who you are
Anything your heart desires
Will come to you
If your heart is in your dream
No request is too extreme
When you wish upon a star
As dreamers do
Fate is kind
She brings to those who love
The sweet fulfillment of
Their secret longing
Like a bolt out of the blue
Fate steps in and sees you through
When you wish upon a star
Your dreams come true
Oh, sure, you can buy your lover a piece of fancy paper with a star map pointing to the alien sun named after them. You can even buy a bunch of impressive documents and photos that say you own a piece of the Moon. Just plop down $29.95.
But does that say, “I love you?”
Most of us can’t go outside and see the sparkling arm of the Milky Way lacing through the winter constellations of Cassiopeia and Perseus. The suburbs just have too many unshielded lights creating a polluting glow.
If you’re lucky enough to live in the country, lake or mountains away from city lights, the starlight can fill your eyes.
Step outside and let the night wrap itself around you. Hunters and wildlife enthusiasts know the feeling of nature taking hold of your senses.
Sitting comfortably warm on a lawn chair is a way to let the winter night materialize as your night vision improves with each passing minute.
And when we look up at the starry night, unfiltered by artificial light, the sight can be overwhelming. So many bright stars in the cool, crisp night appear like glittering diamonds.
If you look up at the starry points long enough, the cold of night disappears, the warmth of the soul simmers. Inspiration can come within as you realize each star is special in its own right; most stars probably have many planets of their own. We’ve already discovered 300 “exoplanets” orbiting some 100 nearby stars. Which ones have life?
Just look how the starry nights inspired—and maybe even tormented—the mind of painter Vincent van Gogh. And don’t forget the poets who wove starlight into their amorous dreams, like Oliver Wendell Holmes.
Even the Psalms of the Bible are rich in celestial imagery: The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handiwork.” Psalm 19:1
Rare are those isolated times when you and the beckoning starry sky seem to be alone and lost. But if captured, it can be an amazing experience for all the senses.
Imagine the crescent Moon setting as its light is reflected in the waters of a lake. The still silence is interrupted by a distant train whistle, and your neck cranes around at the dot-to-dot celestial patterns of Orion, Taurus, Gemini and Pegasus.
Intimately shared with a partner, the cold night sky of February suddenly becomes warm. The blackness punctuated by starry pinpoints takes on a spiritual dimension. The inner workings of our human psyche takes over.
Suddenly, the star-filled night has an intimacy. If lucky, a streaking meteor can shock the senses, creating a unique experience.
How many other humans saw that same shooting star? You might have been the only one.
The romance of the stars may be losing its grip in the hearts of today’s lovers.
But you can recapture that magic any clear night. Just open your eyes and touch the cosmos with your heart and mind.
Just be bold enough the next clear, cold night to venture outside for an hour or so, and embrace the night like never before.
And see if something stirs within, something that makes you wonder about those twinkling stars.
I heard the trailing garments of the night
Sweep through her marble halls,
I saw her sable skirts all fringed with light
From the Celestial walls.
I felt her presence, by its spell of might,
stoop o’er me from above;
The calm, majestic presence of the Night,
As of the one I love.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow – circa 1870