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Poem by Paul Hamilton Hayne

Cloud Pictures

Here in these mellow grasses, the whole morn,
I love to rest; yonder, the ripening corn
Rustles its greenery; and his blithesome horn

Windeth the frolic breeze o'er field and dell,
Now pealing a bold stave with lusty swell,
Now falling to low breaths ineffable

Of whispered joyance. At calm length I lie,
Fronting the broad blue spaces of the sky,
Covered with cloud-groups, softly journeying by:

An hundred shapes, fantastic, beauteous, strange,
Are theirs, as o'er yon airy waves they range
At the wind's will, from marvelous change to change;

Castles, with guarded roof, and turret tall,
Great sloping archway, and majestic wall,
Sapped by the breezes to their noiseless fall!

Pagodas vague! above whose towers outstream
Banners that wave with motions of a dream
Rising, or drooping in the noontide gleam;

Gray lines of Orient pilgrims: a gaunt band
On famished camels, o'er the desert sand
Plodding towards their prophet's Holy Land;

Mid-ocean,and a shoal of whales at play,
Lifting their monstrous frontlets to the day,
Thro' rainbow arches of sun-smitten spray;

Followed by splintered icebergs, vast and lone,
Set in swift currents of some arctic zone,
Like fragments of a Titan's world o'erthrown;

Next, measureless breadths of barren, treeless moor,
Whose vaporous verge fades down a glimmering shore,
Round which the foam-capped billows toss and roar!

Calms of bright waterlike a fairy's wiles,
Wooing with ripply cadence and soft smiles,
The golden shore-slopes of Hesperian Isles;

Their inland plains rife with a rare increase
Of plumed grain! and many a snowy fleece
Shining athwart the dew-lit hills of peace;

Wrecks of gigantic citiesto the tune
Of some wise air-god built!o'er which the noon
Seems shuddering; caverns, such as the wan Moon

Shows in her desolate bosom; then, a crowd
Of awed and reverent faces, palely bowed
O'er a dead queen, laid in her ashy shroud

A queen of eldher pallid brow impearled
By gems barbaric! her strange beauty furled
In mystic cerements of the antique world.

Weird pictures, fancy-gendered!one by one,
'Twixt blended beams and shadows, gold and dun,
These transient visions vanish in the sun.

Paul Hamilton Hayne

Paul Hamilton Hayne's other poems:
  1. A Christmas Lyric
  2. O God! What Glorious Seasons Bless Thy World!
  3. A Lyrical Picture
  4. A Phantom in the Clouds
  5. The Old Man of the Sea

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