Classic and Contemporary Poetry
THE CYCLONE, by JAMES WHITCOMB RILEY Poet's Biography
First Line: So lone I stood, the very trees
Last Line: The birds sang in the sun.
Alternate Author Name(s): Johnson Of Boone, Benj. F.
Subject(s): Birds; Cyclones; Nature; Summer; Trees
SO lone I stood, the very trees seemed drawn
In conference with themselves. -- Intense -- intense
Seemed everything; -- the summer splendor on
The sight, -- magnificence!
A babe's life might not lighter fail and die
Than failed the sunlight. -- Though the hour was noon,
The palm of midnight might not lighter lie
Upon the brow of June.
With eyes upraised, I saw the underwings
Of swallows -- gone the instant afterward --
While from the elms there came strange twitterings,
Stilled scarce ere they were heard.
The river seemed to shiver; and, far down
Its darkened length, I saw the sycamores
Lean inward closer, under the vast frown
That weighed above the shores.
Then was a roar, born of some awful burst! . . .
And one lay, shrieking, chattering, in my path --
Flung -- he or I -- out of some space accurst
As of Jehovah's wrath:
Nor barely had he wreaked his latest prayer,
Ere back the noon flashed o'er the ruin done,
And, o'er uprooted forests tousled there,
The birds sang in the sun.
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