Edited and introduced by Wesley McNair, Maine poet laureate.

Maine’s Robert P. Tristram Coffin was not only a well-known historian during his lifetime but a poet, who won the Pulitzer Prize for poetry in 1935. His poem for today concerns the night moths at his windowpane.


Now with my lamp I make a little world

And sit inside it like a jealous god.

The small creatures of the night come to my pane

And peer at me and know that I am good,

Their eyes fill up with worship and their fear,

They think of me somehow as their lost sun

And flex their paper wings and make them sing

The very minute hymns they make in flight,

They beat like small, quick hearts against my glass.

I wish I were the wonder that has lit

Their round, cool eyes, or knew some way to tell them

That they and I are brothers in the dark.

Take Heart: A Conversation in Poetry is produced in collaboration with the Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance. Poem copyright © 1948 Robert P. Tristam Coffin. Reprinted from “Collected Poems,” by permission of June Coffin. Questions about submitting to Take Heart may be directed to Gibson Fay-LeBlanc at [email protected] or (207) 228-8263. “Take Heart: Poems from Maine,” an anthology collecting the first two years of this column, is now available from Down East Books.