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Poem by Isabella Valancy Crawford

Between the Wind and Rain

"The storm is in the air," she said, and held
Her soft palm to the breeze; and looking up,
Swift sunbeams brush'd the crystal of her eyes,
As swallows leave the skies to skim the brown,
Bright woodland lakes. "The rain is in the air.
"O Prophet Wind, what hast thou told the rose,
"That suddenly she loosens her red heart,
"And sends long, perfum'd sighs about the place?
"O Prophet Wind, what hast thou told the Swift,
"That from the airy eave, she, shadow-grey,
"Smites the blue pond, and speeds her glancing wing
"Close to the daffodils? What hast thou told small bells,
"And tender buds, that--all unlike the rose--
"They draw green leaves close, close about their breasts
"And shrink to sudden slumber? The sycamores
"In ev'ry leaf are eloquent with thee;
"The poplars busy all their silver tongues
"With answ'ring thee, and the round chestnut stirs
"Vastly but softly, at thy prophecies.
"The vines grow dusky with a deeper green--
"And with their tendrils snatch thy passing harp,
"And keep it by brief seconds in their leaves.
"O Prophet Wind, thou tellest of the rain,
"While, jacinth blue, the broad sky folds calm palms,
"Unwitting of all storm, high o'er the land!
"The little grasses and the ruddy heath
"Know of the coming rain; but towards the sun
"The eagle lifts his eyes, and with his wings
"Beats on a sunlight that is never marr'd
"By cloud or mist, shrieks his fierce joy to air
"Ne'er stir'd by stormy pulse."
"The eagle mine," I said: "O I would ride
"His wings like Ganymede, nor ever care
"To drop upon the stormy earth again,--
"But circle star-ward, narrowing my gyres,
"To some great planet of eternal peace.".
"Nay," said my wise, young love, "the eagle falls
"Back to his cliff, swift as a thunder-bolt;
"For there his mate and naked eaglets dwell,
"And there he rends the dove, and joys in all
"The fierce delights of his tempestuous home.
"And tho' the stormy Earth throbs thro' her poles--
"With tempests rocks upon her circling path--
"And bleak, black clouds snatch at her purple hills--
"While mate and eaglets shriek upon the rock--
"The eagle leaves the hylas to its calm,
"Beats the wild storm apart that rings the earth,
"And seeks his eyrie on the wind-dash'd cliff.
"O Prophet Wind! close, close the storm and rain!"

Long sway'd the grasses like a rolling wave
Above an undertow--the mastiff cried;
Low swept the poplars, groaning in their hearts;
And iron-footed stood the gnarl'd oaks,
And brac'd their woody thews against the storm.
Lash'd from the pond, the iv'ry cygnets sought
The carven steps that plung'd into the pool;
The peacocks scream'd and dragg'd forgotten plumes.
On the sheer turf--all shadows subtly died,
In one large shadow sweeping o'er the land;
Bright windows in the ivy blush'd no more;
The ripe, red walls grew pale--the tall vane dim;
Like a swift off'ring to an angry God,
O'erweighted vines shook plum and apricot,
From trembling trellis, and the rose trees pour'd
A red libation of sweet, ripen'd leaves,
On the trim walks. To the high dove-cote set
A stream of silver wings and violet breasts,
The hawk-like storm swooping on their track.
"Go," said my love, "the storm would whirl me off
"As thistle-down. I'll shelter here--but you--
"You love no storms!" "Where thou art," I said,
"Is all the calm I know--wert thou enthron'd
"On the pivot of the winds--or in the maelstrom,
"Thou holdest in thy hand my palm of peace;
"And, like the eagle, I would break the belts
"Of shouting tempests to return to thee,
"Were I above the storm on broad wings.
"Yet no she-eagle thou! a small, white, lily girl
"I clasp and lift and carry from the rain,
"Across the windy lawn."
                        With this I wove
Her floating lace about her floating hair,
And crush'd her snowy raiment to my breast,
And while she thought of frowns, but smil'd instead,
And wrote her heart in crimson on her cheeks,
I bounded with her up the breezy slopes,
The storm about us with such airy din,
As of a thousand bugles, that my heart
Took courage in the clamor, and I laid
My lips upon the flow'r of her pink ear,
And said: "I love thee; give me love again!"
And here she pal'd, love has its dread, and then
She clasp'd its joy and redden'd in its light,
Till all the daffodils I trod were pale
Beside the small flow'r red upon my breast.
And ere the dial on the slope was pass'd,
Between the last loud bugle of the Wind
And the first silver coinage of the Rain,
Upon my flying hair, there came her kiss,
Gentle and pure upon my face--and thus
Were we betroth'd between the Wind and Rain.

Isabella Valancy Crawford

Isabella Valancy Crawford's other poems:
  1. Bouche-Mignonne
  2. An Interregnum
  3. Said the Wind
  4. His Sweetheart
  5. Late Loved - Well Loved

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