The Two Clouds

One Cloud dark and another sparkled in the light. The lit cloud rejoiced but another Cloud pointed out that the joy would only last until the sun moved.

Joy can be fleeting.


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Sketch: James Northcote; Wood drawing: William Harvey (1828)

A Cloud, in Iris’ beams array’d,
Each sister Cloud with scorn survey’d.
‘Hence fly,’ the painted vapour cries,
‘Ye tribe, whom gods and men despise,
‘No longer kindred dare to claim
‘With one who spurns your wretched name;
‘To whom e’en Phoebus’ self must yield,
‘Proud as he rolls his dazzling shield.
‘What, though he dart his scorching rays?
”Tis but an undistinguish’d blaze.
‘No eye e’er saw his orb disclose
‘The crimson tincture of the rose;
‘The violet’s dejected blue,
‘Or polyanthus’ mingled hue.
‘While the proud monarch of the skies,
‘In one broad glare must ever rise,
‘Each tint adorns my spangled bow,
‘Which heaven, earth, air, or seas can show.’
‘What insolence!’ a Cloud exclaims,
‘Vile upstart, deck’d with borrow’d beams!
‘A watery cloud just now you hung,
‘Dark aud unnotic’d in the throng;
‘Till Phoebus’ self, whom you abuse,
‘Illum’d you with his mingled hues;
‘And when he shall withdraw his rays,
‘Your colours fade, your form decays.
‘Hence, empty being of an hour!
‘Nor dare to scorn thy Maker’s power.’
She spoke, and sail’d along the sky,
‘Twixt Phoebus and the rainbow’s dye:
And now the vapour’s tints adorn
The Cloud that lately was her scorn.

JN Fable 056a

Wood drawing: William Harvey; Engraving: J. Wright (1828)