Our share of night to bear…
Our share of night to bear,
Our share of morning,
Our blank in bliss to fill,
Our blank in scorning.
Here a star, and there a star
Some lose their way.
Here a mist, and there a mist,
The second stanza is most curious – some lose their way because of the stars? One would think that a sailor’s way was more sure because of the stars.
(Then again, while the poem implies a journey of some sort, it doesn’t look like “sailing” is really the main subject.)
Even more curious in that stanza is how “mist” isn’t regarded as an obstacle of some sort. The narrator leaves the decision of what “mist” is to us.
The first stanza contains the solution to both these puzzles. There are two “shares” and two “blanks,” each share corresponding to a blank. The “share of night to bear” goes with the “blank in bliss to fill.” Each of these lines has an infinitive ending the thought, which separates both from “share of morning” and “blank in scorning.” It looks like the sharing of night is enjoyable for the narrator, to say the least. It is a time one can do what one wishes with, a “blank,” that can be filled with “bliss.”
“Blank” is doing double duty. If it is an opportunity taken by the narrator in terms of night, then it is also an absence of cynicism or despair, a lack of scorning, too.
“Our share of night,” on my reading, is an invitation to a mystery that is not to be solved. There are plenty of problems that arise for people who love each other, thus causing people who love each other to ask this question: “Why do I love so-and-so?”
The second that question is asked, the relationship is over. There’s never a reason – something that can be apprehended by the intellect, like the position of the stars – for why people love. The search for such reasons wreaks havoc with the feelings one may have and the commitments one has made. Once we start searching for reasons to love, we find we have goals and ideals that we think can only be achieved elsewhere. We start staring at the stars.
And we forget those beside us.
Hence, night and mist are nowhere near the worst things, if we wish the journey to end in light. The worst thing is to try and make the most of lights that are perhaps purposely tiny, purposely obscured, and not to be scrutinized.