“Summer Evening Lightning” by Carlos Wilcox

by Ann Neilson

Summer Evening Lightning
Carlos Wilcox
From The Poets and Poetry of America, ed. Rufus W. Griswold’s, pg. 148

Far off and low
In the horizon, from a sultry cloud,
Where sleeps in embryo the midnight storm,
The silent lightning gleams in fitful sheets,
Illumine the solid mass, revealing thus
Its darker fragments, and its ragged verge;
Or if the bolder fancy so conceive
Of its fantastic forms, revealing thus
Its gloomy caverns, rugged sides and tops
With beetling cliffs grotesque. But not so bright
The distant flashes gleam as to efface
The windows image, on the floor impress’d
By the dim crescent; or outshines the light
Cast from the room upon the trees hard by,
If haply, to illume a moonless night,
The lighted taper shine; though lit in vain,
To waste away unused, and from abroad
Distinctly through the open window seen,
Lone, pale, and still as a sepulchral lamp.