[Editor: This poem by Menie Parkes was published in Poems (1867).]
The day had been full sultry, and the night had fallen warm;
And the people lay and slept not, but waited for the storm;
For they knew that Nature’s silence and the Heavens’ portending frown
Were the heralds that declared that the storm-king would come down.
Growling round the globe the thunder-demon fled,
Seeking for a spot on which to lay his head,
Searching with quick glance, of impatient light,
Into leaf-dark nooks, sheltering the night.
All the conscience-stricken paled in coward fear,
Trembling, self-deserted, saw retribution near,
Shook at every crashing, rattling peal of wrath,
As the mem’ry of dark errors came rushing in its path.
Softly wailed the children, with large, affrighted eyes,
While they gazed in awe and terror at the torn, distorted skies,
Then hid their frightened vision in the fold of gown and quilt,
And murmured that the angels had all the Sun-fire spilt.
Shook the earth, dismayed, shivering with affright,
All the little flowers trembled out of sight;
All the tiny birds peeped out, terror-eyed,
“Saw we, mates, or heard ever night so crimson-dyed?”
Quailed the earth, dismayed, when the demon yelled in wrath
O’er a giant oak, that stood proudly in his path;
Shook the earth, dismayed, when he caught it in his teeth,
And flung it, crushed and shattered, on her heaving breast beneath.
Then the demon stopped in pity, and fled up to the sky,
And, hiding in the cloud-drifts, sent the winds forth with a sigh;
Ruth for the forest-monarch in remorseful rain he wept:
Then the anxious people thanked God, and turned in peace, and slept.
Menie Parkes, Poems, F. Cunninghame, Sydney, , pages 33-34
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