Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, A PICTURE: VALLEY OF CATSKILL RIVER NORTH OF THE CATSKILL MOUNTAINS, by JAMES GATES PERCIVAL



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A PICTURE: VALLEY OF CATSKILL RIVER NORTH OF THE CATSKILL MOUNTAINS, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: The glories of a clouded moonlit night
Last Line: Can only bow before them and adore.
Subject(s): Catskill River, New York State; Landscape


THE glories of a clouded moonlit night --
An union of wild mountains, and dark storms
Gathering around their summits, or in forms
Majestic, moving far away in light,
Like pillared snow, or spectres wreathed in flame --
Meanwhile, around the distant peaks a flow
Of moonlight settles, seeming from below,
Above the mountain's rude gigantic frame,
An island of the heart, a home of bright,
Unsullied souls, who, clad in purest white,
Their bosoms stainless as their mantles, play
Around the gilded rocks, and snowy lawns,
And azure groves, in choirs like bounding fawns
Around the throne of some imperial fay --
Again the dark clouds brood below; their fold
A moment shrouds the mountain in dun shade,
Like midnight blackness from a crater rolled,
And flashing, as the glimmering of a blade
Amid the wreaths of war-smoke, lightnings quiver,
And crackling bolts the oak's bent branches shiver,
And rumbling echoes from the hollow glens
Roar, like the voice of lions in their dens
Awing the silent desert -- then the cloud,
Careering on the whirlwind, lifts its shroud
From off yon soaring pinnacle, and sweet,
Soft moonlight there is sleeping, like the ray,
Whose flashes on a checkered fountain play
Light as the twinkling glance of fairies' feet,
Or brood in burnished brightness on the stream,
Or kiss the tufted bank of dewy flowers,
As if consoling, in his boyish dream,
Her shepherd through her own still magic hours --
Such is the brightness on those rocky towers;
And rising in an arch of double height,
Soaring away beyond that cone, the sky
Smiles to the harmonizing touch of light,
Like the blue iris of a joyous eye --
The moon is there in glory, and the stars
Shrink from her fuller splendour, and grow dim
Behind the veil of her effulgence. Airs,
As if from Eden breathing, blow; clouds swim,
Foamlike and fleecy, round the landscape's brim;
And heaving like a storm-swollen billow's crest,
Rolls the wild tempest in the darkened west,
Its flashes twinkling through the gloom, its peals
Bellowing amid the purple glens; the rain,
Scudding along the forest, bears the bow
Wreathed round the flying storm-cloud, as it steals
Stiller and stiller through the night -- the stain
Of braided colours, in a softer glow,
Bends o'er the foaming river its tall arch,
As if the spirits of the air might march
From mountain on to mountain, and look down,
In triumph, from the pictured circle's crown,
On hamlets wrapped in slumber, meadows green
And gemmed with rain-drops, woods, whose leaves are bowed
With the dissolving richness of the cloud,
And brown brooks flashing down the hills, and pouring
Their tribute to the master stream, which wheels
Through the rude valley, foaming, tumbling, roaring,
And on the lonely wanderer, who steals
Abroad in silence to that echoing shore,
And gazing on the mad wave, and the sky,
Which arches o'er the universe on high,
And on the flying cohorts of the storm
Hiding their frowns behind a seraph's form,
With soul subdued, and awed, enchanted eye
Can only bow before them and adore.






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