Man and Nature

By Elizabeth Barrett Browning

A sad man on a summer day

Did look upon the earth and say –

‘Purple cloud the hill-top binding;

Folded hills the valleys wind in;

Valleys with fresh streams among you;

Streams with bosky trees along you;

Trees with many birds and blossoms;

Birds with music-trembling bosoms;

Blossoms dropping dews that wreathe you

To your fellow flowers beneath you;

Flowers that constellate on earth;

Earth that shakest to the mirth

Of the merry Titan Ocean,

All his shining hair in motion!

Why am I thus the only one

Who can be dark beneath the sun?’

But when the summer day was past,

He looked to heaven and smiled at last,

Self-answered so –

‘Because, O cloud,

Pressing with thy crumpled shroud

Heavily on mountain top, –

Hills that almost seem to drop

Stricken with a misty death

To the valleys underneath, –

Valleys sighing with the torrent, –

Waters streaked with branches horrent, –

Branchless trees that shake your head

Wildly o’er your blossoms spread

Where the common flowers are found, –

Flowers with foreheads to the ground, –

Ground that shriekest while the sea

With his iron smiteth thee –

I am, besides, the only one

Who can be bright without the sun.’


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