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CLOUDLAND, by                     Poet's Biography
First Line: A child, I wanted to explore
Last Line: Better hell than heaven's shadow!
Alternate Author Name(s): Root, E. Merrill
Subject(s): Children; Columbus, Christopher (1451-1506); Conquistadors; Explorers; Pizarro, Francisco (1475-1521); Childhood; Exploring; Discovery; Discoverers

A child, I wanted to explore
The airy and fantastic shore
Of cumulus continents that lie
Columbus' Indies of the sky --
Pale as, in skies of afternoon,
That filmy moth of night, the Moon.

I dreamed . . . so young! . . . what I should see
In Cloudland. Surely there would be
In valley or on chalken cliff
The pastures of the Hippogriffe;
Towers and snowy teocalis
To scale; or lonely cobweb valleys
For hammock; and, my silver pillows,
Ghost Andes soft as pussy-willows;
Or -- growling in their purple lairs --
Fierce golden-taloned jaguars.
There, there, (I thought) I might discover --
There in the clouds -- the perfect lover.
Heroes and hazards there had birth
Too epic for a dream-hostile earth.
Castled in cloud, I should be master
Of idle towers of alabster;
Could win, from the disturbing sun,
An ivory oblivion.

I'm thirty now, and now I know
What it was I longed for so.
Conquestador of Cloudland, I
Voyaged at last the Atlantic sky.
Pizzaro of the sky, I went
To that far chalken continent.
Where, then, were my white teocalis,
My carven hills, my cobweb valleys?
I saw but mournful, monochrome,
Vague drifting fog of ashen foam.
My heroes and my Hippogriffes
Were phantoms amid phantom cliffs.
Vainly within such ghostly lairs
I sought the thunder's jaguars.
I found for lover fog that faded
From limbs it chilled while it evaded;
And, for oblivion, the dim ache
Of nightmare whence one cannot wake.

Cloudland was an inane expanse --
Limbo with no significance:
Frigid and vague, an iceberg's ghost,
Or mocking spider-webs of frost.

I turned my back on Eldorado:
Better Hell than Heaven's shadow!

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