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