Gilbert White

(18 July 1720 – 26 June 1793 / Hampshire, England)

On the Dark, Still, Dry Warm Weather


Th'imprison'd winds slumber within their caves
Fast bound: the fickle vane, emblem of change,
Wavers no more, long-settling to a point.
All nature nodding seems compos'd: thick steams
From land, from flood up-drawn, dimming the day,
"Like a dark ceiling stand:" slow thro' the air
Gossamer floats, or stretch'd from blade to blade
The wavy net-work whitens all the field.
Push'd by the weightier atmosphere, up springs
The ponderous Mercury, from scale to scale
Mounting, amidst the Torricellian tube.
While high in air, and pois'd upon his wings
Unseen, the soft, enamour'd wood-lark runs
Thro' all his maze of melody; -- the brake
Loud with the black-bird's bolder note resounds.
Sooth'd by the genial warmth, the cawing rook
Anticipates the spring, selects her mate,
Haunts her tall nest-trees, and with sedulous care
Repairs her wicker eyrie, tempest torn.
The plough-man inly smiles to see upturn
His mellow glebe, best pledge of future crop:
With glee the gardener eyes his smoking beds:
E'en pining sickness feels a short relief.
The happy school-boy brings transported forth
His long-forgotten scourge, and giddy gig:
O'er the white paths he whirls the rolling hoop,
Or triumphs in the dusty fields of taw.
Not so the museful sage: -- abroad he walks
Contemplative, if haply he may find
What cause controuls the tempest's rage, or whence
Amidst the savage season winter smiles.
For days, for weeks, prevails the placid calm.
At length some drops prelude a change: the sun
With ray refracted bursts the parting gloom;
When all the chequer'd sky is one bright glare.
Mutters the wind at eve: th' horizon round
With angry aspect scowls: down rush the showers,
And float the delug'd paths, and miry fields.

Submitted: Friday, January 03, 2003

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