Then aged 15, now Dr Ailsa G. Thomson Zainu’ddin, aged 78:
Clouds – A Reverie
When a fleet of high-piled cargo boats, the argosies which sail
Like some stately shadowed castles, cross the ocean of the sky,
They could never know the fury of the equinoctial gale
For they glide like placid dream boats to the harbour just near by
Where they anchor in the glory of the slowly setting sun
Which is glowing now half-hidden by a dream boat’s woollen veil
Like the Golden Fleece of Jason, showing ere the day is done,
Like a cloak which hides the glory of the sacred Holy Grail.
Like a wind-torn, bloodstained bannerol, the gorgeous cloud flag
Where the tomb of gaudy Day lies in the vivid, flaming West
And the blazing mass of colours only met in wildest dreams
Turns to darkness, as the sun sinks from this glory into rest.
As the moon climbs through the blackness of the ragged, floating cloud
All the world is briefly lighted by the ghostly silver light
Ere it sinks into the darkness of its inky, tattered shroud
Leaving all the storm-tossed earth to face the horrors of the night.
When the wind is painting patterns on the canvas of the sky
Lacy folds and floating fern-fronds melt into the heaven’s blue
Like the creamy wings of angels from the Paradise on high
When they need the wings no longer but have others which are new.
When the wind becomes a shepherd to a drifting crown of sheep,
They may hurry through the meadows to the distant pipes of Pan,
Or may crop the fragrant herbage on the blue-clad valleys steep
Where the soil yields grass more luscious than the pastures tilled by
When the sky is covered over by a cloud of silver-grey
There is quiet in the coolness and it seems the House of God.
He is present in the stillness of the peaceful, dreaming day
In the pureness of the air and in the firmness of the sod.
And I love to lie and watch the countless cloud forms through the day
And to see them, in the calm or in the fury of the gale
Or to watch the anchored argosies at rest within the bay.
Oh! that mine might be the merchant ship which bears the Holy Grail!
© Alica Gwenneth Thompson, 1941