So vast, our Goddess Night, she rises,
Star-eyes gazing everywhere;
All her finery of dress displayed.
Space high and low she fills, Eternal Night,
Her beauty driving out the dark.
Close on the heels of sister Day
She treads. Let darkness run…
As you draw near, we turn for home
Like birds that wing to nest.
Life everywhere retreats: man, beast
And bird. Even the soaring hawk
Returns to seek out rest.
Night, shield us from the wolf and thief.
Throughout your hours Let there be calm.
Pitch dark has brought a shroud for me.
Dawn, drive it, like my debts, away.
Child of Day, to you, as to a calf,
My hymn is offered. Receive it now
As paean to a conqueror.
— “Hymn to Night,” from The Vedas to the Bhagavad-Gita (Rig Veda), Edwin Gerow and Peter Dent, translators.
The Vedas are the canonical and semicanonical works of ancient Indian religious literature. Composed in Sanskrit, the texts represent the oldest scriptures of Hindu belief and practice. There are four canonical Samhitas — or Vedas proper — and three of them, including the Rig Veda, of which “The Hymn to Night” is part, are to be recited during the yajna, or sacrifice in the ancient Vedic forms. Composed sometime between 1700 and 1100 BC, the Rig Veda includes accounts of the origins of the universe and songs of praise to the gods.