Hymn to Ratri
The goddess Night has looked abroad with her eyes, everywhere drawing near. She has put all her glories on.
The immortal goddess now has filled wide space, its depths and heights. Her radiance drives out the dark.
Approaching, the goddess has expelled her sister Dawn. Now darkness also disappears.
And so you have drawn near to us, who at your coming have come home, as birds to their nest upon the tree.
The clans have now gone home to rest, home the beasts and home the birds, home even the hawks who lust for prey.
Guard us from the she-wolf and the wolf, and guard us from the thief, O Night, and so be good for us to pass.
For darkness, blotting out, has come near me, black and palpable. O Dawn, dispel it like my debts.
I have offered my hymn as a cow is offered, Daughter of Heaven. O Night, accept it, as a victors praise.
Ratri, Goddess of Night, is a Hindu deity and although this is the only hymn to her in the Rig Veda (Book 10, hymn 127), she also has four hymns in the Atharva Veda (Book XIX, Hymns 47-50).
Ratri was perceived, not as the dark, but as the bright starlit night. Adorned with all her splendour she drives away the darkness and protects her worshippers from harm.
By now, largely forgotten, she has been subsumed as Kalaratr, one of the The Nine Forms of the Goddess Durga.
She appears again as a goddess in her own right in the science fiction novel Lord of Light by Roger Zelazny, where he uses a couple of the stanzas from the hymn.