HOT Summer reign'd, and the bright orb of day
High over head roll'd on his cloudless way;
No rains appear'd to cheer the parched earth,
Nor dewy evenings swell'd the oaten birth,
Nor cooling breezes, curl'd along the streams,
Where youths repair'd, to shun the scorching beams;
Ten thousand insects swarm the sultry air,
Crowd in each room, and haunt us ev'ry where;
While, mute, the warblers to the groves retreat,
And seek the shade, to shun the burning heat.
Two sick'ning months had thus roll'd joyless by,
While heat reign'd tyrant from the vaulted sky,
Again the sun rose in the flaming east,
And pour'd his rays o'er earth and ocean's breast;
But ere yon high meridian he had gain'd,
Surrounding clouds his dark'ning visage stain'd:
Clouds piled on clouds, in dismal huge array,
Swell from the south, and blot the face of day.
O'er the bleak sky a threat'ning horror spreads;
The brooks brawl hoarser from their distant beds:
The coming storm, the woodland natives view,
Stalk to the caves, or seek the sheltering yew;
There, pensive droop, and eye the streaming rain,
While light'ning sweeps, and thunder shakes the plain.
Dire is the state of the old wand'ring swain,
Who sees the storm, and hurries o'er the plain;
The plain, far waste, unknown to human tread,
The gloom, fast mingling, dismal o'er his head.
No cottage near, to shield his hoary age;
All earth denies him refuge from its rage.
'Tis black around! swift from the threat'ning skies,
A sudden flash darts on his startled eyes.
Trembling he stops, but how aghast his soul,
When bursting, harsh, rebounding thunders roll!
The loud'ning roar confounds his tortured ear,
His distant friends call forth the briny tear;
Till (hapless swain!) the fiery bolt of death,
Extends him lifeless o'er the with'ring heath.
The low-hung clouds, broke by this mighty sound,
Pour down a deluge, o'er the gaping ground:
Each slate, each tile, teems with a streaming rill;
Thick falls the clattering torrent—thicker still;
While through the wat'ry element, the flash
Of vivid light'ning, blazes on the sash;
While follows, slow, the loud tremendous roar,
As heav'n itself was in dread fragments tore.
Down hurls the boiling brook—hush'd is the breeze—
Brooks rise to rivers—rivers swell to seas—
Smooth-gliding Cart, theme of my infant song,
Swell'd, broad and brown, resistless pours along,
In winding majesty, where Damon's dome,
Half launch'd, detains big whit'ning hills of foam;
Then raves, loud thund'ring o'er the ragged rocks,
Sweeps headlong down tumult'ous planks and blocks,
While crowds of millers gaze and tear their dusty locks.
Thus foaming Cartha swells from shore to shore,
While distant counties listen to her roar.