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The burning sky and blinds the sunlight's blaze.
A hurricane it is, a Texan Norther:
What roar of awe comes from the giant's mouth,
How toss his skirts, how writhe his hands and arms
To grasp the earth and me in his embrace.
A sulphurous scent and smoke of burning towns
Is wafted in his suffocating breath.
Only too true my fear has proved; there, there
On the horizon's marge ascends a cloud,
Which, like the Milky Way upon the sky,
And like the Gulf- Stream's current, holds apart
In hue, velocity and temperature.
Its blood-red tide amid that jet-black main.
Nearer and nearer swells that avalanche
Its waves of fiery glare and gloomy mist;
But woe! the vapors are the trailing skirts
Of shadows swimming in the upper air.
Which, as they pass my zenith, more and more
Assume the ghastly likenesses of men,
Dark-featured, frowning, haggard, livid, pale.
Bedecked with gaping wounds and bloody gore,
And mingled with them prisoners hung with chains,
Which, going by, they clang into my ears.
And headless figures, warrants in their hands,
Which savagely they shake before mine eyes,—
While midway through the dismal train and borne
Upon the pinions of that flaming stripe,
There sweeps a file of women, wan with fear,