Paul Hamilton Hayne

A Storm in the Distance

I SEE the cloud-born squadrons of the gale,
Their lines of rain like glittering spears deprest
(While all the affrighted land grows darkly pale),
In flashing charge on earth's half-shielded breast;

Sounds like the rush of trampling columns float
From that fierce conflict; volleyed thunders peal,
Blent with the maddened wind's wild bugle-note;
The lightnings flash, the solid woodlands reel!

Ha! many a foliaged guardian of the height,
Majestic pine or chestnut, riven and bare,
Falls in the rage of that aerial fight,
Led by the Prince of all the powers of air!

Vast boughs, like shattered banners hurtling fly
Down the thick tumult: while, like emerald snow,
Millions of orphaned leaves make wild the sky,
Or drift in shuddering helplessness below.

Still, still, the levelled lances of the rain
At earth's half-shielded breast take glittering aim;
All space is rife with fury, racked with pain,
Earth bathed in vapor, and heaven rent by flame!

At last the cloud-battalions through long rifts
Of luminous mists retire; . . . the strife is done;
And earth once more her wounded beauty lifts,
To meet the healing kisses of the sun.

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