Monday, June 5, 2017

Monday's Poetry: "Summer Storm"

by Pa Rock
Poetry Appreciator

Though summer is still officially a couple of weeks away, I have chosen to share the following poem, "Summer Storm" by 19th century American romantic poet James Russell Lowell to present today because it so aptly describes some of the natural phenomena that I experienced yesterday at dusk as I was rushing to get the poultry safely inside the coop before a gathering storm cut loose.  Great dollops of rain began to fall, livid flashes of lightening danced across the sky, and thunder muttered its rolling menace in the background - it was all happening as I raced to get all of the birds to safety.   The preamble to the storm was a bit harrowing, and with just a flash or two of actual danger - an exciting way to close out a day at The Roost.

James Russell Lowell captured the intensity and magic of a summer storm and preserved it for the ages, somewhat like lightening in a bottle.  Here is his storm, which bore great similarities to my own.

Summer Storm
by James Russell Lowell

Suddenly all the sky is hid
As with the shutting of a lid,
One by one great drops are falling
Doubtful and slow;
Down the pane they are crookedly crawling,
And the wind breathes low;
Slowly the circles widen on the river,
Widen and mingle, one and all;
Here and there the slenderer flowers shiver,
Struck by and icy rain-drop's fall.

Now on the hills I hear the thunder mutter,
The wind is gathering in the west;
The upturned leaves first whiten and flutter,
Then droop to a fitful rest;
Up from the stream with sluggish flap
Struggles the gull and floats away;
Nearer and nearer rolls the thunder-clap,--
We shall not see the sun go down to-day:
Now leaps the wind on the sleepy marsh,
And tramples the grass with terrified feet,
The startled river turns leaden and harsh,
You can hear the quick heart of the tempest beat.

Look! look! that livid flash!
And instantly follows the rattling thunder,
As if some cloud-crag, split asunder,
Fell, splintering with a ruinous crash,
On the Earth, which crouches in silence under;
And now a solid gray of rain
Shuts off the landscape, mile by mile;
For a breath's space I see the blue wood again,
And, ere the next heart-beat, the wind-hurled pile,
That seemed but now a league aloof,
Bursts crackling o'er the sun-parched roof;
Against the windows the storm comes dashing,
Through tattered foliage the hail tears crashing,
The blue lightning flashes, The rapid hail clashes
The white waves are tumbling,
And, in one baffled roar,
Like the toothless sea mumbling
A rock-bristled shore,
The thunder is rumbling
And crashing and crumbling,--
Will silence return nevermore?

Hush! Still as death,
The tempest holds his breath
As from a sudden will;
The rain stops short, but from the eaves
You see it drop, and hear it from the leaves,
All is so bodingly still;
Again, now, now, again
Plashes the rain in heavy gouts,
The crinkled lightning
Seems ever brightening,

And loud and long
Again the thunder shouts
His battle-song,--
One quivering flash.
One wildering crash,
Followed by silence dead and dull,

As if the cloud let go,
Leapt bodily below
To whelm the earth in one mad overthrow,
And then a total lull.

Gone, gone, so soon!
No more my half-crazed fancy there
Can shape a giant in the air,
No more I see his streaming hair,
The writhing portent of his form;--
The pale and quiet moon
Makes her calm forehead bare,
And the last fragments of the storm,
Like shattered rigging from a fight at sea,
Silent and few, are drifting over me.

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