Quotes about Thunderstorms, Thunder, & Lightning

Now and then a faint thunder-whisper is heard. The cloud masses gather like revolutionary armies marching up to battle. Volleys tell when divisions join, and the lightning that announces them is as if the adamantine arch were riven, disclosing dread splendors unspeakable. Most grand, most beautiful storm! Then new music — that of the delicious rain, and in such abundance that it washes away the very memory of the parched and burning day. ~Caroline M. Kirkland, “June Twenty-Ninth, Eighteen Fifty-Nine,” 1859

Against the windows the storm comes dashing,
Through tattered foliage the hail tears crashing,
The blue lightning flashes,
The rapid hail clashes…
The thunder is rumbling
And crashing and crumbling…
~James Russell Lowell, “Summer Storm,” 1839

On the horizon a cloud of a peculiar shape may be seen banking itself up like a huge puff of steam. The thunder-cloud is a dense black, and forms overhead. If you watch it, you can see it growing like an army preparing for battle. ~William S. Walsh, “Lightning,” A Handy Book of Curious Information: Strange Happenings in the Life of Men and Animals, Odd Statistics, Extraordinary Phenomena and Out of the Way Facts Concerning the Wonderlands of the Earth, 1913

Far out in the west a peculiar cloud had thrust itself up… and it grew before his very eyes. Well, let cloud be cloud—he was by no means the chap to go gazing at clouds; he had something else to do…. But when he happened to look up a few moments later, the cloud had spread itself across the entire western sky, and head of it rolled a billowy mass, which instantly drew his attention. Never had he seen anything of the kind. It rolled, twisted, heaved itself—boiled—; it was cloud, yet it likened rather a sea in uproar…. lightning flashed suddenly across the dark background. He became conscious that he heard something like a broad rumbling, which did not cease until again a flash of lightning cut through the air, followed by a pealing clap of thunder. ~Simon Johnson, From Fjord to Prairie, translated from the Norwegian by C. O. Solberg, 1916

Now and then there comes a crash of thunder in a storm, and we look up with amazement when [God] sets the heavens on a blaze with his lightning. ~C. H. Spurgeon (1834–1892)

Sudden, on the dazzled sight,
Darts the keen electric light;
Shooting from the lurid sky,
Quick as thought, it mocks the eye:
Rolling thunder rends the ear,
Seems to shake earth’s solid sphere;
Hill and dale prolong the sound,
Echoes deep, each cavern round,
Till afar, in distant skies,
Fainter still, it fades and dies…
~Alexander Balfour, “Contemplation,” Contemplation; with Other Poems, 1820

Pulling my son out of the bath, I urge him, “Hurry, put on your piyamas. Come outside and watch the thunderstorm.” And in the twenty minutes before a relentless downpour, he, his sister,… and I pull out the folding chairs and watch the better-than-fireworks lightning storm. The sky splits open. Crack! The kids jump up from their seats, grab hands, and dance to bring the rain down. Nobody’s dollars bought this moment. The sky’s for free. ~Cherríe L. Moraga, “From Inside the First World: On 9/11 and Women-of-Color Feminism,” 2001

Lightning dances —
Thunder applauds her.
~Terri Guillemets, “Excite,” 1995

Rumbling of passing thunderstorms at nightfall. The first cool gusts blow through windows left open until the last possible moment… ~David J. Beard (1947–2016), tweet, 2011

Now on the hills I hear the thunder mutter…
Nearer and nearer rolls the thunder-clap,—
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…
~James Russell Lowell, “Summer Storm,” 1839

A thunder-storm!—the eloquence of heaven,
When every cloud is from its slumber riven,
Who hath not paused beneath its hollow groan,
And felt Omnipotence around him thrown?
With what a gloom the ush’ring scene appears!
The leaves all shiv’ring with instinctive fears,
The waters curling with a fellow dread,
A veiling fervour round creation spread,
And, last, the heavy rain’s reluctant shower,
With big drops patt’ring on the tree and bower,
While wizard shapes the bowing sky deform,—
All mark the coming of the thunder-storm!
~Robert Montgomery, The Omnipresence of the Deity, 1828–1831

Rain is beautiful when it comes hurried and passionate, fleeing from the storm wind, hurled, like a volley of small musketry, against your streaming panes… It is beautiful in the Midsummer, when it comes in light, soft showers, or, more in earnest, accompanied with thunder-music, straight and heavy; when, as the poet says—
      “Rolling as in sleep,
      Low thunders bring the mellow rain.”
~John Richard Vernon, “The Beauty of Rain,” 1863 [Vernon is quoting Tennyson, from “The Talking Oak.” –tg]

Ceraunoscopy, n.  Divination by thunder and lightning. ~The Century Dictionary, 1909

Again, now, now, again
Plashes the rain in heavy gouts,
The crinkled lightning
Seems ever brightening…
And loud and long
Again the thunder shouts
His battle-song,—
One quivering flash,
One wildering crash,
Followed by silence dead and dull,
As if the cloud, let go,
Leapt bodily below
To whelm the earth in one mad overthrow,
And then a total lull…
~James Russell Lowell, “Summer Storm,” 1839

Every bolt, as it burst with the roar of a cannon, seemed to awaken a series of distinct echoes on every side, and you heard them bandied from crag to crag as they rushed along the wadis; while they swept like a whirlwind among the higher mountains, becoming faint as some mighty peak intervened, and bursting again with undiminished volume through some yawning cleft, till the very ground trembled with the concussion. Such sounds it is impossible ever to forget; it seemed as if the whole mountains of the peninsula were answering one another in a chorus of the deepest bass. Ever and anon a flash of lightning dispelled the pitchy darkness, and lit up the tent as if it had been day; then, after the interval of a few seconds, came the peal of thunder, bursting like a shell to scatter its echoes to the four quarters of the heavens, and overpowering for a moment the loud howlings of the wind. ~Robert Walter Stewart, 1854 January 30th, “Feiran to Ghebel Mousa: Thunder Storm in Horeb,” The Tent and the Khan: A Journey to Sinai and Palestine, 1857

A nasty stormline comes rumbling ominously out of the northwest. The birds eat more quickly as the woods grow darker. ~David J. Beard (1947–2016), tweet, 2009

Slowly at last the heavy clouds, charged with the welcome water, roll up from seaward; the air grows sultry and still; the creatures of the grove and jungle keep their coverts, as if expectant, like the surface of the soil; there is a hush over all things, as though nature herself were faint; till presently the lightning flashes and the thunder rattles, and down, as if really from heaven and from the hand of God, comes the thick and fresh rain. Then there rises from the ground a cool and penetrating aroma, the scent of the dry soil saturated… ~Daily Telegraph, as quoted in various publications, c.1872–1892

The heavy thunder rolled and crashed,
The lightning still incessant flashed.
~Simeon Carter (1824–1911), Poems and Aphorisms: A Woodman’s Musings, 1893

Oh! now to be alone, on some grand height,
Where heaven’s black curtains shadow all the sight,
And watch the swollen clouds their bosom clash,
While fleet and far the living lightnings flash…
And see the fiery arrows fall and rise,
In dizzy chase along the rattling skies,—
How stirs the spirit while the echoes roll,
And God, in thunder, rocks from pole to pole!
~Robert Montgomery, The Omnipresence of the Deity, 1828–1831

The thunderhead collects out over the distant plain giving a show of what is to come. ~Mike Dolan, @HawaiianLife, 2015

Then down rushed the rain, and the voice of the thunder
Smote dumb all the sound of the street,
And I to myself was grown nought but a wonder,
As she leaned down my kisses to meet.
~William Morris (1834–1896), “Thunder in the Garden”