Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, WIND, by JOANNA BAILLIE

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Classic and Contemporary Poetry

WIND, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Pow'r uncontrollable, who hold'st thy sway
Last Line: And on the ocean far it slowly dies away.
Subject(s): Weather; Wind

Pow'r uncontrollable, who hold'st thy sway
In the unbounded air, whose trackless way
Is in the firmament, unknown of sight,
Who bend'st the sheeted heavens in thy might,
And lift'st the ocean from its lowest bed
To join in middle space the conflict dread;
Who o'er the peopled earth in ruin scours,
And buffets the firm rock that proudly low'rs,
Thy signs are in the heav'ns. The upper clouds
Draw shapeless o'er the sky their misty shrowds;
Whilst darker fragments rove in lower bands,
And mournful purple cloaths the distant lands.
In gather'd tribes, upon the hanging peak
The sea-fowl scream, ill-omen'd creatures shriek:
Unwonted sounds groan on the distant wave,
And murmurs deep break from the downward cave.
Unlook'd-for gusts the quiet forests shake,
And speak thy coming—awful Pow'r, awake!

Like burst of mighty waters wakes the blast,
In wide and boundless sweep: thro' regions vast
The floods of air in loosen'd fury drive,
And meeting currents strong, and fiercely strive.
First wildly raving on the mountain's brow
'Tis heard afar, till o'er the plains below
With even rushing force it bears along,
And gradual swelling, louder, full, and strong,
Breaks wide in scatter'd bellowing thro' the air.
Now is it hush'd to calm, now rous'd to war,
Whilst in the pauses of the nearer blast,
The farther gusts howl from the distant waste.
Now rushing furious by with loosen'd sweep,
Now rolling grandly on, solemn and deep,
Its bursting strength the full embodied sound
In wide and shallow brawlings scatters round;
Then wild in eddies shrill, with rage distraught,
And force exhausted, whistles into naught.
With growing might, arising in its room,
From far, like waves of ocean onward come
Succeeding gusts, and spend their wasteful ire,
Then slow, in grumbled mutterings retire:
And solemn stillness overawes the land,
Save where the tempest growls along the distant strand.
But great in doubled strength, afar and wide,
Returning battle wakes on ev'ry side;
And rolling on with full and threat'ning sound,
In wildly mingled fury closes round.
With bellowings loud, and hollow deep'ning swell,
Reiterated hiss, and whistlings shrill,
Fierce wars the varied storm, with fury tore,
Till all is overwhelm'd in one tremendous roar.

The vexed forest, tossing wide,
Uprooted strews its fairest pride;
The lofty pine in twain is broke,
And crushing falls the knotted oak.
The huge rock trembles in its might;
The proud tow'r tumbles from its height;
Uncover'd stands the social home;
High rocks aloft the city dome;
Whilst bursting bar, and flapping gate,
And crashing roof, and clatt'ring grate,
And hurling wall, and falling spire,
Mingle in jarring din and ruin dire.
Wild ruin scours the works of men;
Their motly fragments strew the plain.
E'en in the desert's pathless waste,
Uncouth destruction marks the blast:
And hollow caves whose secret pride,
Grotesque and grand, was never ey'd
By mortal man, abide its drift,
Of many a goodly pillar reft.
Fierce whirling mounts the desert sand,
And threats aloft the peopl'd land.
The great expanded ocean, heaving wide,
Rolls to the farthest bound its lashing tide;
Whilst in the middle deep afar are seen,
All stately from the sunken gulfs between,
The tow'ring waves, which bend with hoary brow,
Then dash impetuous to the deep below.
With broader sweepy base, in gather'd might
Majestic, swelling to stupendous height,
The mountain billow lifts its awful head,
And, curving, breaks aloft with roarings dread.
Sublimer still the mighty waters rise,
And mingle in the strife of nether skies.
All wildness and uproar, above, beneath,
A world immense of danger, dread, and death.

In dumb despair the sailor stands,
The frantic merchant wrings his hands,
Advent'rous hope clings to the yard,
And sinking wretches shriek unheard:
Whilst on the land, the matron ill at rest,
Thinks of the distant main, and heaves her heavy breast.
The peasants leave their ruin'd home,
And o'er the fields distracted roam:
Insensible the 'numbed infant sleeps,
And helpless bending age, weak and unshelter'd weeps.
Low shrinking fear, in place of state,
Skulks in the dwellings of the great.
The rich man marks with careful eye,
Each wasteful gust that whistles by;
And ill men scar'd with fancied screams
Sit list'ning to the creaking beams.
At break of ev'ry rising squall
On storm-beat' roof, or ancient wall,
Full many a glance of fearful eye
Is upward cast, till from on high,
From cracking joist, and gaping rent,
And falling fragments warning sent,
Loud wakes around the wild affray,
'Tis all confusion and dismay.

Now powerful but inconstant in its course,
The tempest varies with uncertain force.
Like doleful wailings on the lonely waste,
Solemn and dreary sounds the weaning blast.
Exhausted gusts recoiling growl away,
And, wak'd anew, return with feebler sway;
Save where between the ridgy mountains pent,
The fierce imprison'd current strives for vent,
With hollow howl, and lamentation deep,
Then rushes o'er the plain with partial sweep.
A parting gust o'erscours the weary land,
And lowly growls along the distant strand:
Light thro' the wood the shiv'ring branches play,
And on the ocean far it slowly dies away.

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