In Honor of Humboldt's Varied Weather


The Million Colored Bow

Daily Photo

In the midst of a serious drought, the weather this past day and a half splashed through rain, hail, sleet, snow, thunder, lightning, even an earthquake—the rivers run full and the mountains rub white shoulders against thick woolen clouds.

In honor of this excessive show of weather, I offer this poem.  My mother used to pay me a penny a line to memorize poetry.  What I bought with the money I earned that way I’ve forgotten, but whole stanzas of this poem are want to pop out and awe my children into believing I know vast tomes of literature by heart—priceless learning when you manage to leave a teenager speechless.

The Cloud
by: Percy Bysshe Shelley
I bring fresh showers for the thirsting flowers,
From the seas and the streams;
I bear light shade for the leaves when laid
In their noonday dreams.
From my wings are shaken the dews that waken
The sweet buds every one,
When rocked to rest on their mother’s breast,
As she dances about the sun.
I wield the flail of the lashing hail,
And whiten the green plains under,
And then again I dissolve it in rain,
And laugh as I pass in thunder.

I sift the snow on the mountains below,
And their great pines groan aghast;
And all the night ’tis my pillow white,
While I sleep in the arms of the blast.
Sublime on the towers of my skiey bowers,
Lightning, my pilot, sits;
In a cavern under is fettered the thunder,
It struggles and howls at fits;

Over earth and ocean, with gentle motion,
This pilot is guiding me,
Lured by the love of the genii that move
In the depths of the purple sea;
Over the rills, and the crags, and the hills,
Over the lakes and the plains,
Wherever he dream, under mountain or stream,
The Spirit he loves remains;
And I all the while bask in Heaven’s blue smile,
Whilst he is dissolving in rains.

The sanguine Sunrise, with his meteor eyes,
And his burning plumes outspread,
Leaps on the back of my sailing rack,
When the morning star shines dead;
As on the jag of a mountain crag,
Which an earthquake rocks and swings,
An eagle alit one moment may sit
In the light of its golden wings.
And when Sunset may breathe, from the lit sea beneath,
Its ardors of rest and of love,

And the crimson pall of eve may fall
From the depth of Heaven above,
With wings folded I rest, on mine aery nest,
As still as a brooding dove.
That orbed maiden with white fire laden,
Whom mortals call the Moon,
Glides glimmering o’er my fleece-like floor,
By the midnight breezes strewn;
And wherever the beat of her unseen feet,
Which only the angels hear,
May have broken the woof of my tent’s thin roof,
The stars peep behind her and peer;
And I laugh to see them whirl and flee,
Like a swarm of golden bees,
When I widen the rent in my wind-built tent,
Till the calm rivers, lakes, and seas,
Like strips of the sky fallen through me on high,
Are each paved with the moon and these.

I bind the Sun’s throne with a burning zone,
And the Moon’s with a girdle of pearl;
The volcanoes are dim, and the stars reel and swim
When the whirlwinds my banner unfurl.
From cape to cape, with a bridge-like shape,
Over a torrent sea,
Sunbeam-proof, I hang like a roof,–
The mountains its columns be.
The triumphal arch through which I march
With hurricane, fire, and snow,
When the Powers of the air are chained to my chair,
Is the million-colored bow;
The sphere-fire above its soft colors wove,
While the moist Earth was laughing below.

I am the daughter of Earth and Water,
And the nursling of the Sky;
I pass through the pores of the ocean and shores;
I change, but I cannot die.
For after the rain when with never a stain
The pavilion of Heaven is bare,
And the winds and sunbeams with their convex gleams
Build up the blue dome of air,
I silently laugh at my own cenotaph,
And out of the caverns of rain,
Like a child from the womb, like a ghost from the tomb,
I arise and unbuild it again.



  • I love that poem. The visuals it creates… And the pic is beautiful as well. Very promising :-). I actually saw a beautiful rainbow near Fields Landing today. I wished I had my camera.

  • I’m going to have to read the poem tomorrow when I’m actually awake, but I do love your rainbow. 🙂 We had a rainbow yesterday, but I was driving and in too big of a hurry to stop and take a pic.

  • Kym, do you have that entire poem memorized? It’s wonderful! I may have to start reading Shelley; I never have before. Your rainbow is lovely. I saw one yesterday, too.

  • Mmmm – words and images, perfectly combined – I need to read more Shelley again.

  • Walked home last night under a revealed moon and some stars, yet the temps had dropped. Awoke to mostly cloudy skies and snow on the ridgelines. Good poem, btw.

  • I saw the most breathtaking rainbow I have ever seen yesterday morning about 10:00 just north of Dyerville. It was brilliant from one end to the other and so close I thought I could reach out and touch it. My first thought, “Darn, where is Kym and her camera.”

  • Beautiful Kym. I haven’t managed to capture a rainbow yet, but I will! When I lived in Tacoma Washington they were common – even double ones. Thanks for bringing back memories.

  • We’ve been having skies full of rainbows. Today a friend came into Tang Soo Do just as class was ending she wanted to know if I had my camera (I didn’t!) cause there was a rainbow framed on the wooden cross to that church by the Post Office. It was quite spectacular.

  • I’ve always loved Shelley and Coleridge for their ease of flow and wonderful images. Thanks for the rainbow and the lines long forgotten. Your mother was an astute woman.

  • Timeless imagery for a classic. How much would you have to bribe a kid today to memorize poetry?

  • Damyantig, she is astute and taught me to love good literature.

    Kato, I’ve tried bribing mine to no avail.

  • Gorgeous shot, lovely poem. I could almost hear it set to music, something Gilbert and Sullivan, methinks.

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