A Dialogue betwixt Earth, and Darkness

O horrid Darkness,1 and you powers of night,2
You direful3 shades, made by obstructed light,4
Why so cruel? What evil have I done5
To part me from my husband, the bright sun?6

I do not part you; he me hither sends                                         5
Whilst he rides round8 to visit all his friends.
Besides, he hath more wives to love than you;
He never constant is to one, nor true.

You do him wrong, for though he journeys makes9
For exercise, yet care he for me takes.10                                    10
He leaves his stars and’s sister in his place
To comfort me whilst he doth run his race.
But you do come, most wicked, thievish Night,
And rob me of that fair and silver light.

The moon and stars, they are but shadows thin,                     15
Small cobweb lawn they from his light do spin,
Which they in scorn do make, you to disgrace,
As a thin veil to cover your ill face.
For moon and12 stars have no strong light13 to show14
A color true, nor how you bud or grow.                                     20
Only some ghosts do rise, and take delight
To walk about, whenas15 the moon shines bright.

You are deceived; they cast no such disguise,
But strive to please me,16 twinkling in the skies.
The17 ghosts my children are, which, being18 weak                25
And tender eyed, help from the moon do19 seek,
For why,20 her light being21 gentle, moist, and cold,
Doth ease their eyes when they do it behold.
But you with shadows fright, delude the sight,
Like ghosts22 appear in23 gloomy shades of night.                   30
And you with clouds do cast upon my back
A mourning mantle of the deepest black,
That24 covers me with dark obscurity,
That none of my dear children I can see.
Their lovely faces mask’st thou25 from my sight,                     35
Which show most beautiful in the daylight.
They take delight each other’s face to see,26
And with each other’s form in love they be,27
By which kind sympathy they bring me store
Of children young, which,28 when grown up, bring29 more. 40
But you are spiteful to those lovers kind;
Muffling their faces makes30 their eyes quite blind.

Is this my thanks for all my love and care,
And for the32 great respect to you I bear?
I am thy kind, true,33 and constant lover;                                  45
I all your faults and imperfections cover;34
I take you in my gentle arms of rest;
With cool fresh dews I bathe your dry, hot breast.
The children which you by the sun did bear
I lay to sleep, and rest them from their35 care.                         50
In beds of silence, where they take no harm,36
With blankets soft, though black, I keep them warm,37
Then shut them close from the disturbing light,
And yet you rail against your lover, Night.
Besides, if you had light through all the year,                           55
Though beauty great, ’twould not so well appear.
For what is common hath38 not such respect,
Nor such regard, for use doth bring neglect.
Nought is admired39 but what’s40 seldom seen,
And black, for change, delights as well as green.                     60
Yet I should constant be if I might stay,
But the bright sun doth beat me quite away.
For he is active, and runs all about,
Ne’er dwells with one, but seeks new lovers out.
He spiteful is to other lovers, since                                             65
He by his light doth give intelligence.
I am Love’s confidant, and shady bow’r,41
Where lovers meet and whisper many an hour.42
Thus am I faithful, kind to lovers true,
And all is for your43 sake, and love to you.                               70
I’m melancholy, yet my love’s as true44
As that great light’s45 which is so dear to you.46
Then slight me not, nor do my suit disdain,
But when the sun is gone, me entertain.
Take me, sweet love, with joy into your bed,                            75
And on your fresh green breast lay my black head.

  1. Darkness,] Darkness! 1668
  2. night,] Night! 1668
  3. You direful] Melancholy 1653
  4. light,] Light! 1668
  5. done] done? 1653
  6. A marginal note in Cavendish’s 1653 text reads, “There may be more Earths than one, for all we know, and but one sun. In 1664 and 1668, this note reads, “There may be more Earths, for ought we know, and yet but one sun.”
  7. Darkness] Darkn. 1664; Darkn, 1668
  8. round] about, 1653
  9. makes] make 1653
  10. yet care he for me takes.] he care for me doth take. 1653
  11. Darkness] Darkn. 1664, 1668
  12. and] or 1653
  13. light] Lights 1653
  14. Though we do not typically record differences in punctuation, the 1664 Errata list asks the reader to remove the “stop” (a comma) after the word “shew”. The difference in punctuation here is potentially meaningful: “For moon and stars have no strong light to show / A color true” (with no comma) says that colors are not fully visible in half light, while “For moon and stars have no strong light to show,” with a comma at the end, potentially says merely that the moon and stars have weaker light. We have followed the correction and omitted the comma.
  15. whenas] when that 1653
  16. But strive to please me,] Strive me to please, by 1653
  17. The] And for the 1653
  18. which, being] being 1653
  19. from the moon do] of the Moon they 1653
  20. why,] why? 1664
  21. being] is 1653, 1664
  22. ghosts] Ghost 1653
  23. in] with 1653
  24. That] Which 1664, 1668
  25. mask’st thou] you hide 1664, 1668
  26. each other’s face to see,] to View, and to adorne, 1653
  27. with each other’s form in love they be,] fall in love with one anothers Forme. 1653
  28. which,] those, 1653
  29. bring] brings 1653
  30. Muffling their faces makes] Muffle up their Faces, and 1664; Muffle their Faces up, 1668
  31. Darkness] Darkn. 1664, 1668
  32. the] that 1664, 1668
  33. thy kind, true,] your faithfull, kind, 1664; your faithful, kind, 1668
  34. cover;] cov 1653. The last two letters are left off this word in some copies of 1653 (including the copy on EEBO), though they are added back in others; a copy of 1653 held at the British Library (Shelfmark 79.h.10), for example, reads “cover.”
  35. rest them from their] make them rest from 1664, 1668
  36. where they take no harm,] soft I lay them in, 1653
  37. With blankets soft, though black, I keep them warm,] And cover them, though black, with Blankets cleane. 1653
  38. hath] has 1664, 1668
  39. admired] admir’d 1664, 1668
  40. what’s] what is 1653, 1664
  41. I am Love’s confidant, and shady bow’r,] But I Loves confident am made, I bring 1653
  42. Where lovers meet and whisper many an hour.] Them in my Shade, to meet and whisper in. 1653; Where Lovers meet and whisper many a Hour: 1664
  43. your] the 1653
  44. I’m melancholy, yet my love’s as true] What though I am Melancholy, my Love’s as strong, 1653
  45. that great light’s] the great Light 1653
  46. is so dear to you.] you so dote upon. 1653