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And, soon descending, to the long dark night, 50
Wide-shading all, the prostrate world resigns.
Nor is the night unwished; while vital heat,
Light, life, and joy, the dubious day forsake.
Mean time, in sable cincture, shadows vast,
Deep-tinged and damp, and congregated clouds, 5.5
And all the vapoury turbulence of heaven,
Involve the face of things. Thus Winter falls
A heavy gloom oppressive o'er the world,
Through Nature shedding influence malign,
And rouses up the seeds of dark disease.
The soul of Man dies in him, loathing life,
And black with more than melancholy views.
The cattle droop ; and o'er the furrowed fand,
Fresh from the plough, the dun-discoloured flocks,
Untended spreading, crop the wholesome root. 65
Along the woods, along the moorish fens,
Sighs the sad Genius of the coming storm;
And up among the loose disjointed cliffs,
And fractured mountains wild, the brawling brook
And cave, presageful, send a hollow moan,
Resounding long in listening Fancy's ear.
Then comes the father of the tempest forth,
Wrapt in black glooms. First joyless rains obscure
Drive through the mingling skies with vapour foul ;
Dash on the mountain's brow, and shake the woods, 75
That grumbling wave below. The unsightly plain
Lies a brown deluge ; as the low-bent clouds
Pour flood on flood, yet unexhausted still
Combine, and deepening into night, shut up
The day's fair face. The wanderers of heaven, 80
Each to his home, retire, save those that love
To take their pastime in the troubled air,
Or skimming, flutter round the dimply pool.
The cattle from the untasted fields return,
And ask, with meaning low, their wonted stalls, 85
Or ruminate in the contiguous shade.
Thither the houshold feathery people crowd,
The crested cock, with all his female train,
Pensive, and dripping ; while the cottage-hind
Hangs o'er the enlivening blaze, and taleful there 90
Recounts his simple frolick: much he talks,
And much he laughs, nor recks the storin that blows
Without, and rattles on his humble roof,
Wide o'er the brim, with many a torrent swelled,
And the mixed ruin of its banks o'erspread,
At last the roused up river pours along ;
Resistless, roaring, dreadful, down it comes,
From the rude mountain, and the mossy wild,
Tumbling through rocks abrupt, and sounding far ;
Then o'er the sanded valley floating spreads,
Calm, sluggish, silent ; till again, constrained
Between two meeting hills, it bursts away,
Where rocks and woods c'erhang the turbid stream ;
There gathering triple force, rapid and deep,
105 *It boils, and wheels, and foams, and thunders through. #
NATURE ! great parent ! whose unceasing hand Rolls round the Seasons of the changeful year, How mighty, how majestick, are thy works! With what a pleasing dread they swell the soul ! That sees astonished ! and astonished sings ! 110 Ye too, ye winds ! that now begin to blow, With boisterous sweep, I raise my voice to you. Where are your stores, ye powerful beings I say,
Where your aërial magazines reserved,
To swell the brooding terrors of the storm ? 115
In what far distant region of the sky,
Hushed in deep silence, sleep ye when 'tis calm ?
When from the pallid sky the sun descends,
With many a spot, that o'er his glaring orb
Uncertain wanders, stained ; red fiery streaks 120
Begin to flash around. The reeling clouds
Stagger with dizzy poise, as doubting yet
Which master to obey ; while rising slow,
Blank, in the leaden-coloured east, the moon
Wears a wan circle round her blunted horns. 125
Seen thro’ the turbid fluctuating air,
The stars obtuse emit a shivered ray ;
Or frequent seem to shoot athwart the gloom,
And long behind them trail the whitening blaze.
Snatched in short eddies, plays the withered leaf; 130
And on the flood the dancing feather floats.
With broadened nostrils to the sky up-turned,
The conscious heifer snuffs the stormy gale.
Even as the matron, at her nightly task,
With pensive labour draws the flaxen thread,
The wasted taper and the crackling flame
Forètel the blast. But chief the plumy race,
The tenants of the sky, its changes speak.
Retiring from the downs, where all day long
They picked their scanty fair, a blackening train 140
Of clamorous rooks thick-urge their weary flight,
And seek the closing shelter of the grove ;
Assiduous, in his bower, the wailing owl
Plies his sad song. The cormorant on high
Wheels from the deep, and screams along the land. 145
Loud shrieks the soaring hern ; and with wild wing
The circling sea-fowl cleave the flaky clouds.
Ocean, unequal pressed, with broken tide
And blind commotion heaves ; while from the shore,
Eat into caverns by the restless wave,
And forest-rustling mountains, comes a voice,
That solemn sounding bids the world prepare.
Then issues forth the storm with sudden burst,
And hurls the whole precipitated air,
Down, in a torrent. On the passive main
155 Descends th' ethereal force, and with strong gust Turns from its bottom the discoloured deep. Thro' the black night that sits immense around, Lashed into foam, the fierce conflicting brine Seems o'er a thousand raging waves to burn : 160 Meantime the mountain-billows, to the clouds In dreadful tumult swelled, surge above surge, Burst into chaos with tremendous roar, And anchored navies from their stations drive, Wild as the winds across the howling waste
16 Of mighty waters : now th’ inflated wave Straining they scale, and now impetuous shoot Into the secret chambers of the deep, The wintry Baltick thundering o'er their head. Emerging thence again, before the breath
170 Of full-exerted heaven they wing their course, And dart on distant coasts ; if some sharp rock, Or shoal insiduous break not their career, And in loose fragments fling them floating round. Nor less at land the loosened tempest reigns.
ITS The mountain thunders; and its sturdy sons Stoop to the bottom of the rocks they shade.
? Lone on the midnight steep, and all aghast,
The dark way-faring stranger breathless toils,
And, often falling, climbs against the blast.
Low waves the rooted forest, vext, and sheds
What of its tarnished honours yet remain ;
Dashed down, and scattered, by the tearing wind's
Assiduous fury, its gigantic limbs. .
Thus struggling thro' the dissipated grove,
The whirling tempest raves along the plain ;
And on the cottage thatched, or lordly roof,
Keen fastening, shakes them to the solid base.
Sleep frighted flies ; and round the rocking dome,
For entrance eager, howls the savage blast.
Then too, they say, thro' all the burthened air,
Long groans are heard, shrill sounds, and distant sighs,
That, uttered by the Demon of the night,
Warn the devoted wretch of woe and death.
Huge uproar lords it wide. The clouds commixt 195
With stars swift gliding sweep along the sky.
All Nature reels. Till Nature's King, who oft
Amid tempestuous darkness dwells alone,
And on the wings of the careering wind
Walks dreadfully serene, commands a calm ;
200 Then straight air, sea, and earth, are hushed at once.
As yet 'tis midnight deep. The weary clouds,
Slow-meeting, mingle into solid gloom.
Now, while the drowsy world lies lost in sleep,
Let me associate with the serious Night,
And Contemplation her sedate compeer ;
Let me shake off th' intrusive cares of day,
And lay the meddling senses all aside.
Where now, ye lying vanities of life!