Clouds

What Alps of clouds! The distant, airy deep
Is broken up, and fleecy mountains tower,
Pile over pile, and drift across the blue,
Wild driven by the warm, fierce wind that blows
From fiery Mars; while through their rents and chasms
Shines the pure ether of the outer realm,
And links the lone earth to her sister spheres.
Glorious! The Universe is mine the while!
Fleet Mercury, companion of the sun,
And far Uranus with his loitering years,
And all the myriad, myriad worlds that roll
Beyond our vision dim, but seen of God,
And heard in symphonies about His throne.
And if, above the splendor of these cliffs,
Some white-winged angel should this moment poise,

And in a voice of luring sweetness sing,
“Come hither, hither with the seraphim!”
I should as lightly follow as the child,
Who, tired of silent books and narrow walls,
Hears from the garden bowers his mother call,
And bounds to meet her, knowing they shall roam
Through leafy woodlands and by singing streams.
Are not the heavens God's pastures of delight,
Whither He leads us when our tasks are done?
Give placid, brooding skies to Time and Love,
Fond human love that nestles in the vale
And shuns the wide horizon and the storm;
But, for Immortal Birth, a sky like this,
Upheaved, tumultuous, with a rushing wind
Swept from the farthest circle of the stars
To bear the rapt, exultant soul away!

Or such an evening as I saw in June:
All day the rain had fallen, but the clouds
Lifted at twilight, and to eastward rolled;
And, from wet woods and fields, a silver mist
Rose silently, half zenith high, and robed
The near horizon, mountains, meadows, groves,
In the soft lustre of its filmy veil,
So light, so thin, that through its shroud the pines
Loomed darkly, like the ghost of Loda seen
By moonlight on the hills of Inistore.
When, lo! above the still expanse, a cloud
Lit by the beams of the departed sun!
A ship of flame with crimson sails and masts
All fiery bright, God's glowing galleon,
Celestial freighted for some Eden shore.
And ravished, breathless, fain I would have cried,
“Ho! tarry! hither turn thy gleaming prow,
And take my soul across the silver sea!”

Or an October sunset in the hills:
The west was banked with clouds; the sun obscured;
When, suddenly, just on the horizon's verge,
He burst forth in farewell. O wondrous change!
The south was sapphire through a filmy haze;
The north, the clear, pale, emerald green of waves
That break in foam upon a shelving shore;
The dull, gray bars were palace-pillars tall,
Of gorgeous marbles, jasper, porphyry,
And flawless, blushing granite such as floats.
From far Syene quarries down the Nile.
And domes of purest gold above them shone,
And towers with many a banner burning high,—
Purple and scarlet on an amber sheen,—
While walls of topaz and great rubies blazed,
As flashed the sun or blew the shifting breeze
O'er the wide courts and through the columned aisles.
Nay, 't was no earthly palace, but the Bride,—
The New Jerusalem from God come down,—
And I had but to cross the close-reapt fields,
And pass the brook and gain the mountain's brow,
To swing the gate of pearl and enter in,
Forever done with death and pain and tears!
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