Description Of A Thunder-Storm.

A poem by John Clare

Slow boiling up, on the horizon's brim,
Huge clouds arise, mountainous, dark and grim,
Sluggish and slow upon the air they ride,
As pitch-black ships o'er the blue ocean glide;
Curling and hovering o'er the gloomy south,
As curls the sulphur from the cannon's mouth.
More grizly in the sun the tempest comes,
And through the wood with threatened vengeance hums,
Hissing more loud and loud among the trees:--
The frighted wild-wind trembles to a breeze,
Just turns the leaf in terrifying sighs,
Bows to the spirit of the storm, and dies.
In wild pulsations beats the heart of fear,
At the low rumbling thunder creeping near.
The poplar leaf now resteth on its tree;
And the mill-sail, once twirling rapidly,
Lagging and lagging till each breeze had dropt,
Abruptly now in hesitation stopt.
The very cattle gaze upon the gloom,
And seemly dread the threat'ned fate to come.
The little birds sit mute within the bush,
And nature's very breath is stopt and hush.
The shepherd leaves his unprotected flock,
And flies for shelter in some scooping rock;
There hides in fear from the dread boding wrath,
Lest rocks should tremble when it sallies forth,
And that almighty Power, that bids it roar,
Hath seal'd the doom when time shall be no more.
The cotter's family cringe round the hearth,
Where all is sadden'd but the cricket's mirth:
The boys through fear in soot-black corner push,
And 'tween their father's knees for safety crush;
Each leaves his plaything on the brick-barr'd floor,
The idle top and ball can please no more,
And oft above the wheel's unceasing thrum
The murmur's heard to whisper,--"Is it come!"
The clouds more dismal darken on the eye,
More huge, more fearful, and of deeper dye;
And, as unable to light up the gloom,
The sun drops sinking in its bulging tomb.
Now as one glances sky-ward with affright,
Short vivid lightnings catch upon the sight;
While like to rumbling armies, as it were,
Th' approaching thunder mutters on the ear,
And still keeps creeping on more loud and loud,
And stronger lightnings splinter through the cloud.
An awe-struck monument of hope and fear,
Mute expectation waits the terror near,
That dreadful clap, that terminates suspense,
When ruin meets us or is banish'd hence.
The signal's given in that explosive flash,--
One moment's pause--and then the horrid crash:--
-Almighty, what a shock!--the jostled wrack
Of nature seems in mingled ruins done;
Astounded echo rives the terrors back,
And tingles on the ear a dying swoon.
Flash, peal, and flash still rend the melting cloud;
All nature seems to sigh her race is o'er,
And as she shrinks 'neath chaos' dismal shroud,
Gives meek consent that suns shall shine no more.
Where is the sinner now, with careless eye,
Will look, and say that all is chance's whim;
When hell e'en trembles at God's majesty,
And sullen owns that nought can equal him?
But clouds now melt like mercy into tears,
And nature's Lord his wrath in kindness stops:
Each trembling cotter now delighted hears
The rain fall down in heavy-pattering drops.
The sun 'gins tremble through the cloud again,
And a slow murmur wakes the delug'd plain;
A murmur of thanksgiving, mix'd with fear,
For God's great power and our deliverance here.

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