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The English language contains hundreds of words that by their very sounds suggest the ideas symbolized,—such words as whirr, boom, trickle, splash, clatter, moan, and the like. These are called imitative words, and the poet makes a large use of them. Aside from any imitative effect there are certain tone qualities (tone-colors) that are inherently pleasing to the ear; the long vowels and diphthongs, and the liquid consonants (l, m, n, r). Repeated initial sounds (alliteration) usually give pleasure. The jingling together, or concord of sounds that we call rhyme, is also a pleasing tone-color effect. In "The Summer Storm" some of the most effective tone-color devices are indicated by the italics. Read this poem aloud again and again, until you can make your voice bring out the tone effects that the poet intended.



Untremulous in the river clear,

Toward the sky's image, hangs the imaged bridge;

So still the air that I can hear

The slender clarion of the unseen midge;

Out of the stillness, with a gathering creep,

Like rising wind in leaves, which now decreases,

Now lulls, now swells, and all the while increases,

The huddling trample of a drove of sheep

Tilts the loose planks, and then as gradually ceases

In dust on the other side; life's emblem deep,

A confused noise between two silences,

Finding at last in dust precarious peace.

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On the wide marsh the purple-blossomed grasses

Soak up the sunshine; sleeps the brimming tide, Save when the wedge-shaped wake in silence passes

Of some slow water-rat, whose sinuous glide

Wavers the sedge's emerald shade from side to side;

But up

the west, like a rock-shivered surge,

Climbs a great cloud edged with sun-whitened spray; Huge whirls of foam boil toppling o'er its verge,

And falling still it seems, and yet it climbs alway.

Suddenly all the sky is hid

As with the shutting of a lid,

One by one great drops are falling

Doubtful and slow,

Down the pane they are crookedly crawling,

And the wind breathes low;

Slowly the circles widen on the river,

Widen and mingle, one and all;

Here and there the slenderer flowers shiver, Struck by an icy rain-drop's fall.

Now on the hills I hear the thunder mutter,

The wind is gathering in the west;

The upturned leaves first whiten and flutter,

Then droop to a fitful rest;

Up from the stream with sluggish flap

Struggles the gull and floats away,

Nearer and nearer rolls the thunder-clap,—

We shall not see the sun go down to-day:

Now leaps the wind on the sleepy marsh,

And tramples the grass with terrified feet,

The startled river turns leaden and harsh.

You can hear the quick heart of the tempest beat.

Look! look! that livid flash!

And instantly follows the rattling thunder,

As if some cloud-crag, split asunder,

Fell, splintering with a ruinous crash,

On the Earth, which crouches in silence under;

And now a solid gray wall of rain

Shuts off the landscape mile by mile;

For a breath's space I see the blue wood again,

And ere the next heart-beat, the wind-hurled pile, That seemed but now a league aloof,

Bursts crackling o'er the sun-parched roof;

Against the windows the storm comes dashing,

Through tattered foliage the hail tears crashing,

The blue lightning flashes,

The rapid hail clashes,

The white waves are tumbling,

And, in one baffled roar,

Like the toothless sea mumbling

A rock-bristled shore,

The thunder is rumbling

And crashing and crumbling,

Will silence return nevermore?

Hush! Still as death,

The tempest holds his breath

As from a sudden will;

The rain stops short, but from the eaves

You see it drop, and hear it from the leaves,

All is so bodingly still;


Again, now, now, again

Plashes the rain in heavy gouts,

The crinkled lightning

Seems ever brightening,

And loud and long

Again the thunder shouts

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