THE GREAT ANTARCTIC WALL OF ICE a Poem
THE GREAT ANTARCTIC WALL OF ICE
HERE rose a vast ice-barrier, looming high
Its solid wall of adamantine ice,
Like a grand city with pale granite wrought.
Here seem'd to rise a great cathedral dome,
A monkish minster of the olden time,
With its dim campanile of sacred bells,
Its painted windows glittering in the light,
Its doors with arabesques and roses crown'd,
And flying buttresses and groined roofs,
Its water-spouts with grotesque gargoyles wrought,
O'erspread with images of martyr'd saints,
With long processions bearing high the Host.
Beyond these icy bergs, old scientists
Have a tradition that the open sea,
The great Antarctic Ocean, spreads its space;
That here dwell nations of mermen and maids,
Krakens with power to drag down mighty ships,
Sea-serpents of immeasurable length.
And there, they say, the Southern Ice king dwells,
Thron'd in his royal palace; here drives out
The frost-fiends to their labor on the bergs,
Compell'd to store up treasures of the snows.
Here, too, extend vast fields of giant kelp,
Green pastures of the ocean measureless;
Here mackerel shoals and lierring countless swim;
Here ivory-tusk'd walruses far disport,
And grim sea-lions. Here the albatross
Spreads its broad wing, and penguins skim the waves;
Here wounded whales to these lagoons resort,
Where sword-fish or the thresher ne'er pursue;
Secure from whaler's lance and sharp harpoon,
Feeding at will amid Medusa banks.
O bleak Cape Horn! the voyagers name thee well
"The Cape of Storms;" a bare, inclement rock,
Lifting aloft its rugged shaft of stone
Above the foamy surges of the sea.
Well may the seamen bound for India's strand,
Or sailing far to Afric's palmy shore,
Crossing the broad Atlantic, or the calm
Long billows of Pacific seas,
Tremble to round the stormy Cape of Horn!
For here assail the sleety hail and snow,
And here fore'er careers the raging gale!
McLellan, Isaac. Poems of the Rod and Gun. New York: Henry Thorpe, 1886.
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