James Whitcomb Riley

(7 October 1849 - 22 July 1916 / Greenfield, Indiana)

The Cyclone - Poem by James Whitcomb Riley

So lone I stood, the very trees seemed drawn
In conference with themselves.--Intense--intense
Seemed everything;--the summer splendor on
The sight,--magnificence!

A babe's life might not lighter fail and die
Than failed the sunlight--Though the hour was noon,
The palm of midnight might not lighter lie
Upon the brow of June.

With eyes upraised, I saw the underwings
Of swallows--gone the instant afterward--
While from the elms there came strange twitterings,
Stilled scarce ere they were heard.

The river seemed to shiver; and, far down
Its darkened length, I saw the sycamores
Lean inward closer, under the vast frown
That weighed above the shores.

Then was a roar, born of some awful burst!--
And one lay, shrieking, chattering, in my path--
Flung--he or I--out of some space accurst
As of Jehovah's wrath:

Nor barely had he wreaked his latest prayer,
Ere back the noon flashed o'er the ruin done,
And, o'er uprooted forests touseled there,
The birds sang in the sun.

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Poem Submitted: Friday, April 9, 2010

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