Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE WANDERER: 1. IN ITALY: THE STORM, by EDWARD ROBERT BULWER-LYTTON



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THE WANDERER: 1. IN ITALY: THE STORM, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Both hollow and hill were as dumb as death
Last Line: With the dew on its delicate sheath!
Alternate Author Name(s): Meredith, Owen; Lytton, 1st Earl Of; Lytton, Robert
Subject(s): Italy; Storms; Travel; Italians; Journeys; Trips


BOTH hollow and hill were as dumb as death,
While the skies were silently changing form;
And the dread forecast of the thunderstorm
Made the crouched land hold in its breath.

But the monstrous vapor as yet was unriven
That was breeding the thunder and lightning and rain;
And the wind that was waiting to ruin the plain
Was yet fast in some far hold of heaven.

So, in absolute absence of stir or strife,
The red land lay as still as a drifted leaf:
The roar of the thunder had been a relief,
To the calm of that death-brooding life.

At the wide-flung casement she stood full height,
With her long rolling hair tumbled all down her back;
And, against the black sky's supernatural black,
Her white neck gleamed scornfully white.

I could catch not a gleam of her angered eyes
(She was sullenly watching the slow storm roll),
But I felt they were drawing down into her soul
The thunder that darkened the skies.

And how could I feign, in that heartless gloom,
To be carelessly reading that stupid page?
What harm, if I flung it in anguish and rage,
Her book, to the end of the room?

"And so, do we part thus forever?" ...I said,
"O, speak only one word, and I pardon the rest!"
She drew her white scarf tighter over her breast,
But she never once turned round her head.

"In this wicked old world is there naught to disdain?
Or" -- I groaned -- "are those dark eyes such deserts of blindness,
That, O Woman! your heart must hoard all its unkindness,
For the man on whose breast it hath lain?

"Leave it nameless, the grave of the grief that is past;
Be its sole sign the silence we keep for its sake.
I have loved you -- lie still in my heart till it break:
As I loved, I must love to the last.

"Speak! the horrible silence is stifling my soul."
She turned on me at once all the storm in her eyes;
And I heard the low thunder aloof in the skies,
Beginning to mutter and roll.

She turned -- by the lightning revealed in its glare,
And the tempest had clothed her with terror: it clung
To the folds of her vaporous garments, and hung
In the heaps of her heavy wild hair.

But one word broke the silence; but one; and it fell
With the weight of a mountain upon me. Next moment
The fierce levin flashed in my eyes. From my comment
She was gone when I turned. Who can tell

How I got to my home on the mountain? I know
That the thunder was rolling, the lightning still flashing,
The great bells were tolling, my very brain crashing
In my head, a few hours ago:

Then all hushed. In the distance the blue rain receded;
And the fragments of storm were spread out on the hills;
Hard by, from my lattice, I heard the far rills
Leaping down their rock-channels, wild weeded.

The round, red moon was yet low in the air....
O, I knew it, foresaw it, and felt it, before
I heard her light hand on the latch of the door!
When it opened at last, -- she was there.

Childlike, and wistful, and sorrowfuleyed,
With the rain on her hair, and the rain on her cheek;
She knelt down, with her fair forehead fallen and meek
In the light of the moon at my side.

And she called me by every caressing old name
She of old had invented and chosen for me:
She crouched at my feet, with her cheek on my knee,
Like a wild thing grown suddenly tame.

In the world there are women enough, maids or mothers;
Yet, in multiplied millions, I never should find
The symbol of aught in her face, or her mind.
She has nothing in common with others.

And she loves me! This morning the earth, pressed beneath
Her light foot, keeps the print. 'Twas no vision last night,
For the lily she dropped, as she went, is yet white
With the dew on its delicate sheath!





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