The House of Clouds

The House Of Clouds 

by Elizabeth Barrett Browning

House of Cloud



I would build a cloudy House

For my thoughts to live in;

When for earth too fancy-loose

And too low for Heaven!

Hush! I talk my dream aloud,

bright to see,

I build it on the moonlit cloud,

To which I looked with thee.


Cloud-walls of the morning’s grey,

Faced with amber column,

Crowned with crimson cupola

From a sunset solemn!

May mists, for the casements, fetch,

Pale and glimmering;

With a sunbeam hid in each,

And a smell of spring.


Build the entrance high and proud,

Darkening and then brightening,

If a riven thunder-cloud,

Veined by the lightning.

Use one with an iris-stain,

For the door within;

Turning to a sound like rain,

As I enter in.


Build a spacious hall thereby:

Boldly, never fearing.

Use the blue place of the sky,

Which the wind is clearing;

Branched with corridors sublime,

Flecked with winding stairs

Such as children wish to climb,

Following their own prayers.


In the mutest of the house,

I will have my chamber:

Silence at the door shall use

Evening’s light of amber,

Solemnising every mood,

Softemng in degree,

Turning sadness into good,

As I turn the key.


Be my chamber tapestried

With the showers of summer,

Close, but soundless, glorified

When the sunbeams come here;

Wandering harpers, harping on

Waters stringed for such,

Drawing colours, for a tune,

With a vibrant touch.


Bring a shadow green and still

From the chestnut forest,

Bring a purple from the hill,

When the heat is sorest;

Spread them out from wall to wall,

Carpet-wove around,

Whereupon the foot shall fall

In light instead of sound.


Bring the fantasque cloudlets home

From the noontide zenith

Ranged, for sculptures, round the room,

Named as Fancy weeneth:

Some be Junos, without eyes;

Naiads, without sources

Some be birds of paradise,

Some, Olympian horses.


Bring the dews the birds shake off,

Waking in the hedges,

Those too, perfumed for a proof,

From the lilies’ edges:

From our England’s field and moor,

Bring them calm and white in;

Whence to form a mirror pure,

For Love’s self-delighting.


Bring a grey cloud from the east,

Where the lark is singing;

Something of the song at least,

Unlost in the bringing:

That shall be a morning chair,

Poet-dream may sit in,

When it leans out on the air,

Unrhymed and unwritten.


Bring the red cloud from the sun

While he sinketh, catch it.

That shall be a couch, with one

Sidelong star to watch it,

Fit for poet’s finest Thought,

At the curfew-sounding;

Things unseen being nearer brought

Than the seen, around him.


Poet’s thought, not poet’s sigh!

‘Las, they come together!

Cloudy walls divide and fly,

As in April weather!

Cupola and column proud,

Structure bright to see

Gone except that moonlit cloud,

To which I looked with thee!


Let them! Wipe such visionings

From the Fancy’s cartel

Love secures some fairer things

Dowered with his immortal.

The sun may darken, heaven be bowed

But still, unchanged shall be,

Here in my soul, that moonlit cloud,

To which I looked with THEE!


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