Verse > Anthologies > William Wilfred Campbell, ed. > The Oxford Book of Canadian Verse
William Wilfred Campbell, comp.  The Oxford Book of Canadian Verse.  1913.
Thunderstorm in August
By William Kirby (1817–1906)
BUT when fierce August suns, careering high,
Gaze hot and silent from the brazen sky;
When bird and beast forsake the open glade,
And pant all mute within the sultry shade;
When not a breath doth stir the lightest leaf,        5
And springs and brooks dried up deny relief;
While Nature lies exhausted in the throes
Of parching thirst, the sharpest of her woes;
Then, lo! a small dark cloud, all fringed with red,
Above th’ horizon lifts its liquid head;        10
Surveys the scene, and larger grows to view,
While all the legions of the storm pursue.
The muttering thunder with unceasing din
Proclaims the strife of elements within;
And lurid flashes flood the murky clouds,        15
As faster on they follow, crowds on crowds.
Eclipsed the sun, his fires at once allayed,
Falls o’er the quaking earth a dreadful shade;
A thousand birds aloft in terror rise
And seek the safest haunts, with piercing cries;        20
The leaves, they tremble in the breathless woods,
And sighing trees confess th’ approaching floods.
At once, ’mid clouds of dust and flying leaves,
The whirlwind sweeps aloft the scattered sheaves;
Sharp lightning rends the black and marble skies,        25
And thousand-voiced the pealing thunder flies.
The shattered boughs upon the tempest ride,
And rocking forests groan from side to side;
While cataracts of rain in deluge pour,
And sweep the smoking land with ceaseless roar.        30
The wild tornado passes, and the sun
With golden rays peeps through the clouds of dun.
Green Nature glistens, and the piping bird
Within the dripping grove is fluttering heard;
While down the streaming gullies, furrowed wide,        35
The rushing waters pour on every side,
And earth refreshed emerges from the storm
With smiling face and renovated form.

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