To a Cloud
by William Cullen Bryant (1794-1878)
Beautiful cloud! with folds so soft and fair,
Swimming in the pure quiet air!
Thy fleeces bathed in sunlight, while below
Thy shadow o’er the vale moves slow;
Where, midst their labour, pause the reaper train
As cool it comes along the grain.
Beautiful cloud! I would I were with thee
In thy calm way o’er land and sea:
To rest on thy unrolling skirts, and look
On Earth as on an open book;
On streams that tie her realms with silver bands,
And the long ways that seam her lands;
And hear her humming cities, and the sound
Of the great ocean breaking round.
Ay—I would sail upon thy air-borne car
To blooming regions distant far,
To where the sun of Andalusia shines
On his own olive-groves and vines,
Or the soft lights of Italy’s bright sky
In smiles upon her ruins lie.
But I would woo the winds to let us rest
O’er Greece long fettered and oppressed,
Whose sons at length have heard the call that comes
From the old battle-fields and tombs,
And risen, and drawn the sword, and on the foe
Have dealt the swift and desperate blow,
And the Othman power is cloven, and the stroke
Has touched its chains, and they are broke.
Ay, we would linger till the sunset there
Should come, to purple all the air,
And thou reflect upon the sacred ground
The ruddy radiance streaming round.
Bright meteor! for the summer noontide made!
Thy peerless beauty yet shall fade.
The sun, that fills with light each glistening fold,
Shall set, and leave thee dark and cold:
The blast shall rend thy skirts, or thou may’st frown
In the dark heaven when storms come down,
And weep in rain, till man’s inquiring eye
Miss thee, forever from the sky.