Sunday, January 6, 2013

The House of Clouds

 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.

Cloud-walls of the morning's grey,
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.

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

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.

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

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 colours, for a tune,
With a vibrant touch.

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.

Bring the fantasque 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.

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.

Bring a grey 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.

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.

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!

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!

 Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Six Significant Landscapes

An old man sits
In the shadow of a pine tree
In China.
He sees larkspur,
Blue and white,
At the edge of the shadow,
Move in the wind.
His beard moves in the wind.
The pine tree moves in the wind.
Thus water flows
Over weeds.

The night is of the colour
Of a woman's arm:
Night, the female,
Fragrant and supple,
Conceals herself.
A pool shines,
Like a bracelet
Shaken in a dance.

I measure myself
Against a tall tree.
I find that I am much taller,
For I reach right up to the sun,
With my eye;
And I reach to the shore of the sea
With my ear.
Nevertheless, I dislike
The way ants crawl
In and out of my shadow.

When my dream was near the moon,
The white folds of its gown
Filled with yellow light.
The soles of its feet
Grew red.
Its hair filled
With certain blue crystallizations
From stars,
Not far off.

Not all the knives of the lamp-posts,
Nor the chisels of the long streets,
Nor the mallets of the domes
And high towers,
Can carve
What one star can carve,
Shining through the grape-leaves.

Rationalists, wearing square hats,
Think, in square rooms,
Looking at the floor,
Looking at the ceiling.
They confine themselves
To right-angled triangles.
If they tried rhomboids,
Cones, waving lines, ellipses --
As, for example, the ellipse of the half-moon --
Rationalists would wear sombreros.

 Wallace Stevens 

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