‘A Night Thought’ is a small yet thought-provoking lyrical poem by William Wordsworth. Divided into three stanzas with six lines each, the poem compares and contrasts the “happy” moon with the “smileless” man.
At the start of the poem, Wordsworth paints a beautiful picture of a moon-lit night sky. The word “sails” evokes a fascinating image in the readers’ mind. The sky appears like an endless deep sea and the moon a luminous ship voyaging at its easy and unhurried pace.
Lo! where the Moon along the sky
Sails with her happy destiny;
The image of the calm and content moon is juxtaposed with that of the unhappy and dissatisfied man. Readers don’t miss the satire when humans are addressed as “a frorward race.” The poet says that “Fortune” has graced human beings with its riches. This implies that he has achieved unimagined luxuries and comforts. Yet he is ungrateful to the nature and the Almighty. Thanklessly he pursues his endless pursuit of worldly pleasures “With cherished sullenness of pace.”
Thus, the similarity between the moon and the man is that both of them are progressing towards their destinations. But the difference between them is the fact that while the moon seems to be happy and cheerful, humans appears to be sad and depressed.
It is this difference that seems to make the poet somewhat envious of the moon. In the final stanza, he clearly states that he wish to emulate and be like the moon. He doesn’t want to walk in the footsteps of his fellow human beings. He wishes to break away from them and instead wish to experience the state of joy and ecstasy that the moon seems to be enjoying every moment, even when the clouds attempt to hide it or make it appear dim.
The poem bears several features that make it a typical romantic poem. First of all, it glorifies nature. The man, on the other hand, is blinded by greed and self-indulgence. Nature, here the moon, shows him the way to achieve solace and contentment. Nature is presented as an ideal to be emulated by humans. The vocabulary is easily understandable and the images are simple and common.