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Gilman, James W. (ed.) / The Wisconsin literary magazine
Volume XIX, Number 5 (March 1920)

Solberg, Victor
Sunset and clouds,   p. 123

Page 123

Sunset and Clouds
Oft, as a little wondering child,
I looked upon the flowers fair
Set on the open window sill.
And now that I've become a man,
The sash has changed to rounded hills,
The flowers to the sunset's flame.
Clouds are feathers from the angels' wings
Who soar about the glowing sapphire gates,
Floating afar from shining, radiant strands,
Drifting t'ward earth. They slowly oscilate
Down to our verdured hills and flower-starred lands.
That semi-burnished cloud,
Rounded and worn and thin,
An old coin of the Ceaser's doth resemble,
Green tarnished with the salts upon its bronze,
With its half-visible and guessed at figure
Or face of man cast from a mould imperfect.
Just as a mother helps a child to creep
Beneath his vari-colored counterpane,
So, also, thinks he God hath gently pulled and heaped
A marvelous coverlet o'er the tired world.
Crabbed Increase Mather and his wily son
Sat at the Salem trials. They glanced with eyes
Steeped in harsh prejudice upon the Holy Writ,
Seeking to find a word or phrase on which
To base a judgment 'gainst some frightened hag.
One day their Scripture vanished quite away,
The great book with its silver clasp, its type
A'printed in the brighest gold. "Some witch
Has spirited the Writ," they cried. And, for
A fortnight, they were doubly cruel and sour.
I think if they had read the imprint on the clouds,
Where God had stamped the loveliness of truth,
It might have been that they had yielded up
The kindly aid which kindly hearts may give.
Through the long hours the stern, unflinching sun
Slashes his way through clouds, pierces the forests'
Splinters his glittering shafts against the rocks.
Then, when the evening hour is come, he sometimes
His sleeve across his aching brow to hide his eyes
From labors which he sees he hath not done;
Thus we on earth behold his many banded coat,
Gold striped for services unto the world.
Like to a Paris facade,
Wild with flags and ribbons gay,
Triumphant flying in their victory,
Are those bright banners loosed above the hills.
Thou wild wind-
The screaming of the pipes,
And thou mad, crimson-vested vagabond,
Belted with yellow sash,
Ribboned with purple strips,
Art the knave piper out of Hamlin town,
Luring the children to a land unknown.
And this mad tumult lying at my feet,
Reflection of the sunset on the water,
May be the ghost of some barbarian chief,
Ablaze in gorgeous feathers, painted, preened,
Banded with copper, flashing with colored beads,
Wailing his prayers to bring the hunting moon.
When a young lad I used to watch the clouds
Roll up in white and glowering domes along
The evening sky. The sun, in dying, poured his
Crimson flood upon that quaking mass.
And tinged and stained it with his brilliant dyes,
And oft to me the clouds appeared to be
A lion-tamer in a carmine coat
With epaulets of gold and buttons bright,
In breeches white, in glossed Moroccan boots,
In sharp spiked helmet with a spray of crimson plumes
Swaying and bobbing in the playful winds,
She cracked her lightning whip; the cringing beast
Answered in thunderous roar, or moaned and snarled
And whimpered as he fled into his lair.
March 1920

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