The Winds

A poem by William Lisle Bowles

When dark November bade the leaves adieu,
And the gale sung amid the sea-boy's shrouds,
Methought I saw four winged forms, that flew,
With garments streaming light, amid the clouds;
From adverse regions of the sky,
In dim succession, they went by.
The first, as o'er the billowy deep he passed,
Blew from its brazen trump a far-resounding blast.
Upon a beaked promontory high,
With streaming heart, and cloudy brow severe,
Marked ye the father of the frowning year![1]
Dark vapours rolled o'er the tempestuous sky,
When creeping WINTER from his cave came forth;
Stern courier of the storm, he cried, what from the north?

North Wind.

From the vast and desert deeps,
Where the lonely Kraken sleeps,
Where fixed the icy mountains high
Glimmer to the twilight sky;
Where, six lingering months to last,
The night has closed, the day is past,
Father, lo, I come, I come:
I have heard the wizard's drum,
And the withered Lapland hag,
Seal, with muttered spell, her bag:
O'er mountains white, and forests sere,
I flew, and with a wink am here.


Spirit of unwearied wing,
From the Baltic's frozen main,
From the Russ's bleak domain,
Say, what tidings dost thou bring!
Shouts, and the noise of battle! and again
The winged wind blew loud a deadly blast;
Shouts, and the noise of battle! the long main
Seemed with hoarse voice to answer as he passed.
The moody South went by, and silence kept;
The cloudy rack oft hid his mournful mien,
And frequent fell the showers, as if he wept
The eternal havoc of this mortal scene.
He had heard the yell, and cry,
And howling dance of Anarchy,
Where the Rhone, with rushing flood,
Murmured to the main, through blood:--
He seemed to wish he could for ever throw
His misty mantle o'er a world of woe.
But rousing him from his desponding trance,
Cold Eurus blew his sharp and shrilling horn;
In his right hand he bore an icy lance,
That far off glittered in the frost of morn;
The old man knew the clarion from afar,
What from the East? he cried.

East Wind.

Shouts, and the noise of war!
Far o'er the land hath been my flight,
O'er many a forest dark as night,
O'er champaigns where the Tartar speeds,
O'er Wolga's wild and giant reeds,
O'er the Carpathian summits hoar,
Beneath whose snows and shadows frore,
Poland's level length unfolds
Her trackless woods and wildering wolds,
Like a spirit, seeking rest,
I have passed from east to west,
While sounds of discord and lament
Rose from the earth where'er I went.
I care not; hurrying, as in scorn,
I shook my lance, and blew my horn;
The day shows clear; and merrily
Along the Atlantic now I fly.
Who comes in soft and spicy vest,
From the mild regions of the West?
An azure veil bends waving o'er his head,
And showers of violets from his hands are shed.
'Tis Zephyr, with a look as young and fair
As when his lucid wings conveyed
That beautiful and gentle maid
Psyche, transported through the air,
The blissful couch of Love's own god to share.
Winter, avaunt! thy haggard eye
Will scare him, as he wanders by,
Him and the timid butterfly.
He brings again the morn of May;
The lark, amid the clear blue sky,
Carols, but is not seen so high,
And all the winter's winds fly far away!
I cried: O Father of the world, whose might
The storm, the darkness, and the winds obey,
Oh, when will thus the long tempestuous night
Of warfare and of woe be rolled away!
Oh, when will cease the uproar and the din,
And Peace breathe soft, Summer is coming in!

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