The House Of Clouds

by Elizabeth Barrett Browning

I would build a cloudy House
For my thoughts to live in:
When for earth too fancy-loose,
And too low for Heaven!
Hush! I talk my dream aloud --
I build it bright to see, --
I build it on the moonlit cloud
To which I looked with thee.

Cloud-walls of the morning's grey,
Faced with amber column, --
Crowned with crimson cupola
From a sunset solemn!
May-mists, for the casements, fetch,
Pale and glimmering;
With a sunbeam hid in each,
And a smell of spring.

Build the entrance high and proud,
Darkening and then brightening, --
Of a riven thunder-cloud,
Veined by the lightning.
Use one with an iris-stain,
For the door within;
Turning to a sound like rain,
As we enter in.

Build a spacious hall thereby:
Boldly, never fearing,
Use the blue place of the sky,
Which the wind is clearing;
Branched with corridors sublime,
Flecked with winding stairs --
Such as children wish to climb,
Following their own prayers.

In the mutest of the house,
I will have my chamber:
Silence at the door shall use
Evening's light of amber,
Solemnising every mood,
Softening in degree, --
Turning sadness into good,
As I turn the key.

Be my chamber tapestried
With the showers of summer,
Close, but soundless, -- glorified
When the sunbeams come here;
Wandering harpers, harping on
Waters stringed for such, --
Drawing colours, for a tune,
With a vibrant touch.

Bring a shadow green and still
From the chesnut forest,
Bring a purple from the hill,
When the heat is sorest;
Spread them out from wall to wall,
Carpet-wove around, --
Whereupon the foot shall fall
In light instead of sound.

Bring the fantasque cloudlets home,
From the noontide zenith;
Ranged, for sculptures, round the room, --
Named as Fancy weeneth:
Some be Junos, without eyes;
Naiads, without sources;
Some be birds of paradise, --
Some, Olympian horses.

Bring the dews the birds shake off,
Waking in the hedges, --
Those too, perfumed for a proof,
From the lilies' edges:
From our England's field and moor,
Bring them calm and white in;
Whence to form a mirror pure,
For Love's self-delighting.

Bring a grey cloud from the east,
Where the lark is singing;
Something of the song at least,
Unlost in the bringing:
That shall be a morning chair,
Poet-dream may sit in,
When it leans out on the air,
Unrhymed and unwritten.

Bring the red cloud from the sun!
While he sinketh, catch it.
That shall be a couch, -- with one
Sidelong star to watch it, --
Fit for poet's finest Thought,
At the curfew-sounding, --
Things unseen being nearer brought
Than the seen, around him.

Poet's thought, -- not poet's sigh!
'Las, they come together!
Cloudy walls divide and fly,
As in April weather!
Cupola and column proud,
Structure bright to see --
Gone! -- except that moonlit cloud,
To which I looked with thee!

Let them! Wipe such visionings
From the Fancy's cartel --
Love secures some fairer things
Dowered with his immortal.
The sun may darken, -- heaven be bowed --
But still, unchanged shall be, --
Here in my soul, -- that moonlit cloud,
To which I looked with THEE!


The Poems Of Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Volume 1
Copyright 1853
C. S. Francis & Co., 262 Broadway, New York
Crosby & Nichols, Boston

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