Those who refuse to listen to dragons are probably doomed to spend their lives acting out the nightmares of politicians. We like to think we live in daylight, but half the world is always dark; and fantasy, like poetry, speaks the language of the night.

Ursula K Le Guin
Fantasy, like poetry, speaks the language of the night
San Francisco Sunday Examiner and Chronicle 21st November 1976

The witching hour, somebody had once whispered to her, was a special moment in the middle of the night when every child and every grown-up was in a deep deep sleep, and all the dark things came out from hiding and had the world all to themselves.

Roald Dahl
The BFG

At night, when the objective world has slunk back into its cavern & left dreamers to their own, there come inspirations & capabilities impossible to any less magical & quiet hour.

H.P. Lovecraft
letter to Lillian D. Clark, 1st September 1924

hold off Death

March 4, 2020

Out of the dark we came, into the dark we go. Like a storm-driven bird at night we fly out of the Nowhere; for a moment our wings are seen in the light of the fire, and, lo! we are gone again into the Nowhere. Life is nothing. Life is all. It is the Hand with which we hold off Death. It is the glow-worm that shines in the night-time and is black in the morning; it is the white breath of the oxen in winter; it is the little shadow that runs across the grass and loses itself at sunset.

H. Rider Haggard

King Solomon’s Mines

Why does one feel so different at night? Why is it so exciting to be awake when everybody else is asleep? Late—it is very late! And yet every moment you feel more and more wakeful, as though you were slowly, almost with every breath, waking up into a new, wonderful, far more thrilling and exciting world than the daylight one. And what is this queer sensation that you’re a conspirator? Lightly, stealthily you move about your room. You take something off the dressing-table and put it down again without a sound. And everything, even the bedpost, knows you, responds, shares your secret…

You’re not very fond of your room by day. You never think about it. You’re in and out, the door opens and slams, the cupboard creaks. You sit down on the side of your bed, change your shoes and dash out again. A dive down to the glass, two pins in your hair, powder your nose and off again. But now – it’s suddenly dear to you. It’s a darling little funny room. It’s yours. Oh, what a joy it is to own things! Mine – my own!

Katherine Mansfield
At the Bay

an intensification of silence

December 23, 2019

The night. Melanie let herself into the night and it sniffed out her daytime self at once, between two of its dark fingers. The flowers cupped in the garden with a midnight, unguessable sweetness, and the grass rippled and murmured in a small voice that was an intensification of silence. The stillness was like the end of the world. She was alone. In her carapace of white satin, she was the last, the only woman. She trembled with exaltation under the deep, blue, high arc of sky.

Angela Carter
The Magic Toyshop

Shadows that are

November 23, 2019

Against the wall shadows grope, shadows that pin light to stone,
that are carapaces of light when sky negatives to purple black.
Sleeping rough, they fatten for the border crossing
on the fruits of rock vines; uncle who crossed too late
is a fossil in that wall. The ivy purposes to warm and shield him.
And the shadows are the bodies of dreamers deranged from bed
by the scent of the night-blooming jasmine, a plate of prosciutto,
the code of clinking forks. Languages flitter through cracks in the wall;
to the untutored ear they sound the same, but their blood types differ.
So the agents go on drinking vermouth while night bleeds the river
that is studded with fire opals cold to the tongue. They keep living
in this land that midwifed a stillborn dream. Peace does not come.
It merely lifts its shining horn and passes through indifferent stone.
Its cloven hooves crush mortar shells while evening prayer,
that dark orchid, clings fast and tenuous to the air.

Carol Alexander

November Nights

November 14, 2019

Cold November nights, poignant sensations, deep, resonant silence.

Virginia Woolf
Diary entry November 1940

spontaneously combust

November 8, 2019

It makes all the sense in the world. You awaken and smell smoke and see that the cat at the foot of the bed is on fire. And so you scoop him up and race to the bathroom and douse him with the tub. You reassure him that he will be fine – he is fine – telling him that everything’s okay. You hold him firmly but gently under the faucet because you are worried about his burns.

The only thing is, you’re not awake. But you’re not precisely dreaming, either. After all, in the morning the sheets are wet where the cat slept when you both went back to bed, and there is fur in the tub. There are scratch marks on your arms and the back of your hands, because the cat was justifiably resistant to the idea of a shower in the middle of the night. And, of course, the animal was never on fire. Northing in the house was on fire. And you’re a responsible person; you know that cats and dogs don’t spontaneously combust. But in the middle of the night, in the fidelity of that instant, you were saving the cat’s life and that was all that mattered.

Chris Bohjalian
The Sleepwalker

Alone in the Rain

October 28, 2019

Rain falling on me.
I am naked and awash
with the rain that wakens
your scent on my skin.
Cold, too.
Pointless to try to warm up
as this night my soul
is a thunderstorm of chills –

P