Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE HOUSE OF CLOUDS, by ELIZABETH BARRETT BROWNING



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THE HOUSE OF CLOUDS, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: I would build a cloudy house
Last Line: To which I looked with thee!
Subject(s): Clouds


I

I WOULD build a cloudy House
For my thoughts to live in,
When for earth too fancy-loose,
And too low for heaven:
Hush! I talk my dream aloud,
I build it bright to see, --
I build it on the moonlit cloud
To which I looked with thee.

II

Cloud-walls of the morning's gray,
Faced with amber column,
Crowned with crimson cupola
From a sunset solemn:
May-mists, for the casements, fetch,
Pale and glimmering,
With a sunbeam hid in each
And a smell of spring.

III

Build the entrance high and proud,
Darkening and then brightening,
Of a riven thunder-cloud,
Veined by the lightning:
Use one with an iris-stain
For the door so thin,
Turning to a sound like rain
As I enter in.

IV

Build a spacious hall thereby
Boldly, never fearing;
Use the blue place of the sky
Which the wind is clearing:
Branched with corridors sublime,
Flecked with winding stairs,
Such as children wish to climb
Following their own prayers.

V

In the mutest of the house
I will have my chamber;
Silence at the door shall use
Evening's light of amber,
Solemnizing every mood,
Softening in degree,
Turning sadness into good
As I turn the key.

VI

Be my chamber tapestried
With the showers of summer,
Close, but soundless, glorified
When the sunbeams come here --
Wandering harpers, harping on
Waters stringed for such,
Drawing color, for a tune,
With a vibrant touch.

VII

Bring a shadow green and still
From the chestnut-forest,
Bring a purple from the hill,
When the heat is sorest;
Spread them out from wall to wall,
Carpet-wove around,
Whereupon the foot shall fall
In light instead of sound.

VIII

Bring fantastic cloudlets home
From the noontide zenith,
Ranged for sculptures round the room,
Named as Fancy weeneth;
Some be Junos, without eyes,
Naiads, without sources,
Some be birds of paradise,
Some, Olympian horses.

IX

Bring the dews the birds shake off
Waking in the hedges, --
Those too perfumed, for a proof,
From the lilies' edges:
From our England's field and moor,
Bring them calm and white in,
Whence to form a mirror pure
For Love's self-delighting.

X

Bring a gray cloud from the east
Where the lark is singing,
(Something of the song at least
Unlost in the bringing):
That shall be a morning-chair,
Poet-dream may sit in
When it leans out on the air,
Unrhymed and unwritten.

XI

Bring the red cloud from the sun,
While he sinketh catch it;
That shall be a couch, -- with one
Sidelong star to watch it, --
Fit for poet's finest thought
At the curfew-sounding;
Things unseen being nearer brought
Than the seen, around him.

XII

Poet's thought, -- not poet's sigh.
'Las, they come together!
Cloudy walls divide and fly
As in April weather.
Cupola and column proud,
Structure bright to see,
Gone! except that moonlit cloud
To which I looked with thee.

XIII

Let them! Wipe such visionings
From the fancy's cartel:
Love secures some fairer things,
Dowered with his immortal.
The sun may darken, heaven be bowed,
But still unchanged shall be, --
Here, in my soul, -- that moonlit cloud
To which I looked with THEE!





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