On moonlight

We are not conscious of daylight as that which displaces darkness…. We take daylight for granted. But moonlight is another matter. It is inconstant…. It transforms. It falls upon the banks and the grass, separating one long blade from another; turning a drift of brown, frosted leaves from a single heap into innumerable, flashing fragments; or glimmering lengthways along wet twigs as though light itself were ductile. Its long beams pour, white and sharp, between the trunks of trees, their clarity fading as they recede into the powdery, misty distance of beech woods at night…. We do not take moonlight for granted. It is like snow, or the dew on a July morning. It does not reveal but changes what it covers. And its low intensity – so much lower than that of daylight, makes us conscious that it is something added to the down, to give it, only for a little time, a singular and marvellous quality that we should admire while we can, for soon it will be gone again.

Richard Adams in Watership Down


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