Before and After.

A stillness wraps in calm the summer day,1
Unbroken by a sound, save when the breeze2
A moment rustles through the parched trees,3
Then leaves them motionless. The sultry air—4
Hot as the breath of fevered patient—seems5
Conscious of coming storm : the cattle crowd6
With low-bowed heads beneath the elm-clumps, awed7
By some dread instinct of they know not what,8
Save, that ’ tis ill impending. All the sky9
With thickly gathering clouds is overcast,10
Dark leaden clouds, their edges tinged with red,11
All ominous of storm ; the quick, big drops12
Of rain begin to fall—a rumbling peal13
Of distant thunder, low reverberates14
Along the hills : more thickly fall the drops,15
Comes down a deluge—and the lightning gleams16
In quick, successive flashes ; louder still,17
And louder roars the thunder—till gives rein18
The tempest to its fury ; awing man19
And beast alike by its sublimity.20
Its wrath at length the storm begins to bate,21
A wrath too fierce to last ; the thunder grows22
Fainter and fainter, and the lightnings cease ;23
The rain-drops patter feebly through the leaves,24
Till they at last are spent ; bright diamonds,25
Of Heaven’s purest water, glittering hang26
On leaf, and blade, and flower ; once more the birds27
Resume their for a while suspended song ;28
The cattle leave the shelter of the boughs,29
And seek again the pastures ; all the air30
Is filled with fragrance sweet, the cooling gift31
Of storm beneficent ; and once again32
From her enforced torpor wakes the Earth !33