SCENE IN KAMSCHATKA a Poem
SCENE IN KAMSCHATKA
IT was mid-day, and yet the setting sun
Glow'd like a red ball at the horizon's edge,
And a dim twilight on the landscape fell.
As on we journeyed a white ptarmigan
Would rise at times and whir away in flight;
A magpie through the pinea on muffled wings
Would pass, or yellow fox flit by;
An eagle high in firmament would soar,
But naught of other life or sound prevail'd.
Far off, a belt of timber by a stream
Waver'd and trembled in its outlines faint,
And the white, ghostly mountains far away
Were upthrown in a myriad airy shapes,
Which melted quickly like dissolving views.
Each feature of this Arctic scene was strange,
And as we gaz'd the red sun seem'd to rest
On a white peak, then sudden fell the night.
White, cold, and silent, the great waste outspread,
Like a vast ocean frozen in its sweep,
Faint-lighted by the crescent of the moon,
And by the blue streamers of Auroral Light,
That flash'd and flicker'd in the southern skies.
E'en when the sun arose, fiery and round,
In haze of frozen vapor in the south,
It gave no light or warmth to cheer the waste;
With its red glare it only seem'd to drown
Tli' Aurora's streamers, blue ami tremulous;
While the white radiauce of the moon and stars
Ting'd like a stormy sunset the bleak snows,
And lit a mirage, floating up the air.
The Aurora touch'd the barren, dreary steppes,
And quick it seem'd a tropical, blue lake,
Upon whose distant shores rose walls and domes
And slender minarets of Orient climes;
But soon the splendid pageant pass'd from sight,
And the bright mirage melted into air.
When at nightfall the camp-fires rais'd their flames,
And all luxurious sought the bearskin couch,
How pleasant was the talk of native laud!
While our stout Koraks, picturesquely group'd
Around the blaze, sang wild, barbaric songs,
And told their tales of hardships o'er the steppes.
How weird the scene! the steppes one crystal sea,
Far stretching until lost in gloom of night;
While overhead the constellations bright
Of Orion and Pleiades shone out,—
Celestial clocks to mark the waning hours.
Then quick lh' Auroral panorama grand
Faded and vanish'd, until naught but mist
Far in the north horizon show'd the place
Where Arctic spirits draw their gleaming swords
To wave them nightly o'er Siberian wastes.
McLellan, Isaac. Poems of the Rod and Gun. New York: Henry Thorpe, 1886.
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