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On thee adventuring o'er an unknown main, One wounded sufferer wakes, with pain opprest;
Yet are his thoughts at home among the rest ;
That vision to reality; and home
Is so endear'd, he vows no more to roam. Deeds perish'd from remembrance; truth, array'd, Ha! suddenly he starts ; with trembling lips, Like beaven by night, in emblematic shade, Salt shower-drops, oozing through the roof, he sips; When shines the horoscope, and star on star, Aware that instant, yet alarm'd too late, By what they are not, led to what they are ; -The sea hath burst its barrier, fix'd their fate; Atomis, that twinkle in an infant's eye,
Escape impossible; the tempests urge Are worlds, suns, systems in th' unbounded sky: Through the deep dell the inundating surge ; Thus, the few fabled woes my strains create Nor wall nor roof th' impetuous flood controls, Are hieroglyphics in a book of Fate,
Above, around, within, the deluge rolls ; And while the shadowy symbols I unroll,
He calls his comrades ;—ere their doom be known, Imagination reads a direr scroll.
"T is past ;—the snow-house utterly o’erthrown, Wate, ye wild visions ! o'er the northern deep, Its inmates vanish; never to be found, On clouds and winds, like warrior-spectres sweep; Living or dead, on habitable ground. Show by what plagues and hurricanes destroy'd, A breathing realm became a torpid void.
There is a beauteous hamlet in the vale ;
Green are the fields around it; sweetly sail The floods are raging, and the gales blow high,
The iwilight shadows o'er the darkening scene, Low as a dungeon-roof impends the sky;
Earth, air, and ocean, all alike serene. Prisoners of hope, between the clouds and waves,
Dipt in the hues of sun-set, wreathed in zones, Su fearless sailors man yon boat, that braves
The clouds are resting on their mountain-thrones;
One peak alone exalts its glacier crest,
Thither the day with lingering steps retires,
Thus Aaron laid his gorgeous robes aside
On Horeb's consecrated top, and died.
The moon, meanwhile, o'er ocean's sombre bed, Bilow on billow bounding ; near, more near,
New-risen, a thousand glow-worm lights hath spread; They Ferge to ruin ;-life and death depend
From east to west the wildfire splendors glance,
And all the billows in her glory dance ;
Of Providence, wide-watching from the sky,
While Nature slumbers;-emblem of His grace, Of hissing foam-wreaths, whence the tide roll'd back; Whose presence fills the infinite of space. Then ere that tide, returning to the charge, Swallows the wreck, the captives are at large. On either hand steep hills obstruct their path ;
The clouds have left the mountains; coldly bright. Behind, the ocean roaring in his wrath,
Their icy summits shed cerulean light; Mad es a Libyan wilderness by night,
The steep declivities between assume With all its lions up, in chase or fight.
A horror of unfathomable gloom: The fagitives right onward shun the beach, The village sleeps ;-from house to house, the ear Nor larry till the inmost cove they reach,
of yonder sentinel no sound can hear : Recluded in the labyrinthine dell,
A maniac ;-he, while calmer heads repose, Like the last hollow of a spiral shell.
Takes his night-round, to tell the stars his woes : There, with the ax or knife which haste could save, Woes, which his noble heart to frenzy stung; They build a house ;--perhaps they dig a grave :
—He hath no bard, and they remain unsung. Of solid snow, well-squared, and piled in blocks, A warrior once, victorious arms he bore; Brilliant as hewn from alabaster rocks,
And bears them still, although his wars are o'er; Their palace rises, narrowing to the roof,
For 't is his boast, with shield and sword in hand, And freezes into marble, tempest-proof;
To be the guardian Angel of the land. Night closing round, within its shade they creep, Mark with what stem solemnity he stalks, And weary Nature sinks at once to sleep.
And to himself as to a legion talks ;
Now deep in council with his chiefs; anon, Oh! could we walk amidst their dreams, and see He starts as at the trumpet, leads them on, All that they have been, are, or wish to be,
And wins the day ;-his battle-shout alarms
None but the infant in the nurse's arms;
Soon hush'd, but closer to her side, it sleeps ;
While he abroad his watch in silence keeps.
At every door he halts, and brings a sigh,
1.But leaves a blessing, when he marches by:
He stops; from that low roof, a deadly groan Who thus, in winter's long and social reign,
Hold feasts and tournaments upon the main,
When, built of solid floods, his bridge extends A spouse, a father, there hath breathed his last. A highway o'er the gulf to meeting friends, The widow and her little ones weep not ;
Whom rocks impassable, or winds and tide,
Fickle and false, in summer months divide.
The scene runs round with motion, rings with mirtha Ah! little think that family forlorn
-No happier spot upon the peopled earth; How brief the parling ;-they shall meet ere morn! The drifted snow to dust the travellers beat, For lo! the witness of their pangs hath caught
Th' uneven ice is flint beneath their feet. A sight that startles madness into thought;
Here tents, a gay encampment, rise around, Back from their gate unconsciously he reels;
Where music, song, and revelry resound;
There the blue smoke upwreathes a hundred spires, A resurrection of his soul he feels ; There is a motion in the air ; his eye
Where humbler groups have lit their pine-wood fires Blinks as it fear'd the falling of the sky.
Ere long they quit the tables ; knights and dames
Lead the blithe multitude to boisterous games.
Bears, wolves, and lynxes yonder head the chase ;
Here start the harness'd reindeer in the race;
Borne without wheels, a flight of rival cars - That splendid peak, the Power (which to the Track the ice-firmament, like shooting stars,
Right to the goal, converging as they run, spheres Had piled its turrets through a thousand years),
They dwindle through the distance into one.
Where smoother waves have formd a sea of glass, Touches, as lightly as the passing wind, And the huge mass, o'erbalanced, undermined,
With pantomimic change the skaiters pass; And dislocated from its base of snow,
Now toil like ships 'gainst wind and stream; then wheel Slides down the slope, majestically slow,
Like flames blown suddenly asunder; reel
Like drunkards; then dispersed in tangents wide, Till o'er the precipice, down headlong sent, And in ten thousand, thousand spangles rent.
Away with speed invisible they glide. It piles a hill where spread a vale before :
Peace in their hearts, death-weapons in their hands
Fierce in mock-battle meet fraternal bands,
Whom the same chiefs erewhile to conflict led,
When friends by friends, by kindred kindred bled. -The sleepers wake,—their homes in ruins hurl'd, — And foot the mazes of the giddy dance ;
Here youthful rings with pipe and drum advance, They wake-from death into another world. The gazing maniac, palsied into stone,
Grey-beard spectators, with illumined eye,
Lean on their staves, and talk of days gone by ;
Children, who mimic all, from pipe and drum
To chase and battle, dream of years to come. But shows reality in such a shape,
Those years to come the young shall ne'er behold; "T were rapture back to frenzy to escape.
The days gone by no more rejoice the old. Again the clouds of desolation roll,
There is a boy, a solitary boy, Blotting all old remembrance from his soul; Who takes no part in all this whirl of joy, Whate'er his sorrows or his joys have been, Yet in the speechless transport of his soul, His spirit grows embodied through this scene : He lives, and moves, and breathes throughout the With eyes of agony, and clenching hands,
whole : Fix'd in recoil, a frozen form he stands,
Him should destruction spare, the plot of earth, And smit with wonder at his people's doom, That forms his play-ground, gave a poet birth, Becomes the monument upon their tomb.
Who on the wings of his immortal lays,
Thine heroes, Greenland ! to the stars shall raise
It must not be abruptly from the show
To sound the depths of ocean, where his mind
No ;---for he feels it beat through every vein;
The keen expression of his eye alarms
Where are the multitudes of yesterday?
Pre-eminent upon its peak, behold,
With walls of amethyst and roofs of gold, Those skies, meanwhile, with gathering darkness The semblance of a city; towers and spires scowl;
Glance in the firmament with opal fires ; Hollow and winterly the bleak winds howl. Prone from those heights pellucid fountains flow -From mom till noon had ether smiled serene, O'er pearly meads, through emerald vales below. Sare one black-belted cloud, far eastward seen, No lovelier pageant moves beneath the sky, Lke a snow-mountain ;—there in ambush lay Nor one so mournful to the nearer eye; TH' undreaded tempest, panting for his prey : Here, when the bitterness of death had pass'd That cloud by stealth hath through the welkin O'er others, with their sledge and reindeer cast, spread,
Five wretched ones, in dumb despondence, wait And hangs in meteor-twilight over-head;
The lingering issue of a nameless fate;
A bridal party mark yon reverend sage
His daughter in her prime; the youth, who won
Who hoped, like him, a gentle heart to gain Ere the disruption of the struggling main, By valorous enterprise on land or main. Foretold by many a stroke, like lightning sent -These, when the ocean-pavement fail'd their feet b thunder, through th' unstable continent, Sought on a glacier's crags a safe retreat, Wuch now, elastic on the swell below,
But in the shock, from its foundation torn, Ro'ls high in undulation to and fro.
That mass is slowly o'er the waters borne, Men reindeer, dogs, the giddy impulse feel, An ice-berg on whose verge all day they stand And jostling headlong, back and forward reel: And eye the blank horizon's ring for land. While snow, sleet, hail, or whirling gusts of wind, All night around a dismal flame they weep; Exhausi, bewilder, stop the breath, and blind. Their sledge, by piecemeal, lights the hoary deep. Ali is distnay and uproar; some have found Morn brings no comfort; at her dawn expire Death for deliverance, as they leap'd on ground, The latest embers of their latest fire; Svept back into the flood ;—but hope is vain : For warmth and food the patient reindeer bleeds, Ere half the fugitives the beach can gain, Happier in death than those he warms and feeds. The fix'd ice, severing from the shore, with shocks -How long, hy that precarious raft upbuoy'd, Of earthquake violence, bounds against the rocks ; They blindly drifted on a shoreless void ; Then snddenly, while on the verge they stand, How long they suffer'd, or how soon they found The whole recoils for ever from the land,
Rest in the gulf, or peace on living ground: And leares a gulf of foam along the shore, -Whether, by hunger, cold, and grief consumed, In which whoever plunge are seen no more. They perish'd miserably—and unentomb'd
(While on that frigid bier their corses lay), Ocean, meanwhile, abroad hath burst the roof Became the sea-fowl's or the sea-bear's prey ; That sepulchred his waves ; he bounds aloof. -Whether the wasting mound, by swift degrees, In boiling cataracts, as volcanoes spout
Exhaled in mist, and vanish'd from the seas, Their fery fountains, gush the waters out; While they, too weak to struggle even in death, The frame of ice, with dire explosion rends, Lock'd in each other's arms resign'd their breath, And down th' abyss the mingled crowd descends. And their white skeletons, beneath the wave, Heaven! from this closing horror hide thy light; Lie intertwined in one sepulchral cave: Cast thy thick mantle o'er it, gracious Night! -Or meeting some Norwegian bark at sea, These screarns of mothers with their infants lost, They deemed its deck a world of liberty ; These groans of agony from wretches, tost Od rocks and whirlpools—in thy storms be drown'd, The crash of mountain-ice to atoms ground, an authentic narrative of a journey on sledges along the coast And rage of elements while winds, that yell of Labrador, by two Moravian missionaries and a number of Like demons, peal the universal knell,
Esquimaux, in the year 1782. The first incident in this Canto,
the destruction of the snow-house, is partly borrowed from the The shrouding waves around their limbs shall spread,
same record. * And Darkness be the burier of the dead."
1 The Ice-bergs, both fixed and floating, present the most fanTheir pangs are o'er :—at morn the tempests cease, tastic and magnificent forms, which an active imagination may And the freed ocean rolls himself to peace;
easily convert into landscape-scenery. Crantz says, that some Broad to the sun his heaving breast expands,
of these look like churches, with pillars, arches, portals, and
illuminated windows; others like castles, with square and spiral He holds his mirror to a hundred lands;
turrets. A third class assume the appearance of ships in full While cheering gales pursue the eager chase sail, to which pilots have occasionally gone out, for the purOf billows round immeasurable space.'
pose of conducting them into harbor; many again resemble large islands, with hill and dale, as well as villages, and even
cities, built upon the margin of the sea. Two of these stood 1 The principal phenomena described in this disruption of for many years in Disco Bay, which the Dutch whalers called intense a breadth of ice, are introduced on the authority of Amsterdam and Haarlem.
-Or sunward sailing, on green Erin's sod,
And every sound along the air that comes, They kneelid and worshipp'd a delivering God, The voice of clarions and the roll of drums. Where yet the blood they brought from Greenland –"T is she! 't is she! the well-known keel at last, runs
With Greenland's banner streaming at the mast; Among the noblest of our sister's sons
The full-swoln sails, the spring-tide, and the breeze - Is all unknown ;-their ice-berg disappears Waft on her way the pilgrim of the seas. Amidst the flood of unreturning years.
The monks at matins issuing from their cells, Ages are fled; and Greenland's hour draws nigh: Spread the glad tidings; while their conveni-bells Seal'd is the judgment; all her race must die;
Wake town and country, sea and shore, to bliss Commerce forsakes th' unvoyageable seas,
Unknown for years on any morn but this.
Men, women, children throng the joyous strand, That year by year with keener rigor freeze ;
Whose mob of moving shadows o'er the sand Th' embargoed waves in narrower channels roll
Lengthen to giants, while the hovering sun To blue Spitzbergen and the utmost pole;
Lights up a thousand radiant points from one. A hundred colonies, erewhile that lay
The pilots launch their boats a race! a race! On the green marge of many a shelter'd bay,
The strife of oars is seen in every face ;
Arm against arm puts forth its might to reach,
And guide the welcome stranger to the beach.
-Shouts from the shore, the cliffs, the boats, arise ; Hold free communion with the breathing tide,
No voice, no signal from the ship replies;
Nor on the deck, the yards, the bow, the stern,
Can keenest eye a human form discern.
Oh! that those eyes were open'd, there to see, And, like a palsied limb of Nature's frame,
How, in serene and dreadful majesty, Greenland be nothing but a place and name.
Sits the destroying Angel at the helm ! That crisis comes; the wasted fuel fails;'
-He, who hath lately march'd from realm to realm.
And from the palace to the peasant's shed,
Made all the living kindred to the dead :
Nor man alone, dumb nature felt his wrath,
Drought, mildew, murrain, strew'd his carnage-path; -His generation soon shall pass away.
Harvest and vintage cast their timeless fruit,
Forests before him wither'd from the root. At moonless midnight, on this naked coast,
To Greenland now, with unexhausted power, How beautiful in heaven the starry host !
He comes commission'd; and in evil hour With lambent brilliance o'er these cloister-walls,
Propitious elements prepare his way;
His day of landing is a festal day.
A boat arrives ;— to those who scale the deck, By many a pining wretch, whose slumbers feign
Of life appears but one disastrous wreck; The bliss for which he looks at morn in vain.
Fall'n from the rudder which he fain had grasp'd, Two years are gone, and half expired a third
But stronger Death his wrestling hold unclaspd, (The nation's heart is sick with hope deferr'd), The film of darkness freezing o'er his eyes, Since last for Europe sail'd a Greenland prow,
A lukewarm corpse, the brave commander lies ; Her whole marine,-80 shorn is Greenland now, Survivor sole of all his buried crew, Though once, like clouds in ether unconfined,
Whom one by one the rife contagion slew, Her naval wings were spread to every wind. Just when the cliffs of Greenland cheer'd his sight, The monk, who sits the weary hours to count, Even from their pinnacle his soul took flight. In the lone block-house, on the beacon mount, Chillid at the spectacle, the pilots gaze Watching the east, beholds the morning star One on another, lost in blank amaze ; Eclipsed at rising o'er the waves afar,
But from approaching boats, when rivals throng, As if, for so would fond expectance think,
They seize the helm, in silence steer along, A sail had cross'd it on the horizon's brink.
And cast their anchor, 'midst exulting cries, His fervent soul, in ecstasy outdrawn,
That make the rocks the echoes of the skies, Glows with the shadows kindling through the dawn. Till the mysterious signs of woes to come, Till every bird that flashes through the brine
Circled by whispers, strike the uproar dumb. Appears an arm'd and gallant brigantine;
Rumor affirms, that by some heinous spell 1 Greenland has been supplied with fuel, from time imme. Of Lapland witches, crew and captain fell; morial, brought by the tide from the northern shores of Asia, Nonc guess the secret of perfidious fate, and other regions, probably even from California, and the coast Which all shall know too soon,—yet know too late. of America towards Behring's Straits. This annual provision, however, has gradually been decreasing for some years past
The monks, who claim the ship, divide the stores (being partly intercepted by the accumulation of ice), on the shores of modern Greenland towards Davis's Straits. Should it Of food and raiment, at their convent-doors. fail altogether, that country (like the east) must become unin - -A mother, hastening to her cheerless shed, babitable; as the natives themselves employ wood in the con- Breaks to her little ones untasted bread; struction of their houses, their boats, and their implements of Clamorous as nestling birds, the hungry band fishing, hunting, and shooting, and could not find any adequate substitute for it at home
Receive a mortal portion at her hand.
On each would equal love the best confer,
On deck, in groups embracing as they died, Each by distinct affection dear to her;
Singly, erect, or slumbering side by side, One the first pledge that to her spouse she gave, Behold the crew!—They saild, with hope elate, And one unborn till he was in his grave;
For eastern Greenland ; till, ensnared by fate, This was his darling, that to her most kind; In toils that mock'd their utmost strength and skill, A fifth was once a twin, the sixth is blind : They felt, as by a charm, their ship stand still ; In each she lives ;-in each by turns she dies; The madness of the wildest gale that blows, Setten by pestilence before her eyes,
Were mercy to that shudder of repose, Three days and all are slain ;—the heaviest doom When withering horror struck from heart to heart, Is hers, their ice-barr'd cottage is their tomb. The blunt rebound of Death's benumbing dart, -The wretch, whose limbs are impotent with cold, And each, a petrifaction at his post, In the warm comfort of a mantle rollid,
Looked on yon father, and gave up the ghost;' Lie down to slumber on his soul's desire ; He, meekly kneeling, with his hands upraised, But wakes at morn, as wrapt in flames of fire, His beard of driven snow, eyes fix'd and glazed, Not Hercules, when from his breast he tore Alone among the dead shall yet survive, The cloak envenom'd with the Centaur's gore, -Th’imperishable dead that seem alive; Felt sharper pangs than he, who, mad with rage, -Th’immortal dead, whose spirits, breaking free, Dires in the gulf, or rolls in snow, t' assuage Bore his last words into eternity, His quenchless agony; the rankling dart
While with a seraph's zeal, a Christian's love, Within him burns till it consumes his heart. Till his tongue fail'd, he spoke of joys above. From vale to vale th' affrighted victims fly, Now motionless, amidst the icy air, Bat catch or give the plague with every sigh; He breathes from marble lips unutier'd prayer. A touch contaminates the purest veins,
The clouds condensed, with dark, unbroken hue Till the Black Death through all the region reigns. Of stormy purple, overhang his view,
Save in the west, 10 which he strains his sight, Comes there no ship again to Greenland's shore? Till thence th' emerging sun, with lightning blaze,
One golden streak, that grows intensely bright, There comes another there shall come no more;
Pours the whole quiver of his arrowy rays ; Nor this shall reach an haven :-What are these
The smitten rocks to instant diamond turn, Stupendous monuments upon the seas?
And round th' expiring saint such visions burn, Works of Omnipotence, in wondrous forms,
As if the gates of Paradise were thrown Immovable as mountains in the storms ?
Wide open to receive his soul ;- 't is flown! Far as Imagination's eye can roll,
The glory vanishes, and over all Ode range of Alpine glaciers to the pole
Cimmerian darkness spreads her funeral pall. Flanks the whole eastern coast ; and branching wide, Arches o'er many a league th' indignant tide, Morn shall return, and noon, and eve, and night That works and frets, with unavailing flow, Meet here with interchanging shade and light; To mine a passage to the beach below;
But from this bark no timber shall decay, Thence from its neck that winter-yoke to rend, Of these cold forms no feature pass away ; And down the gulf the crashing fragments send. Perennial ice around th’incrusted bow, There lies a vessel in this realm of frost,
The peopled deck, and full-rigg'd masts shall grow, Not wrecked, nor stranded, yet for ever lost; Till from the sun himself the whole be hid, Its keel imbedded in the solid mass;
Or spied beneath a crystal pyramid; les glistening sails appear expanded glass ;
As in pure amber, with divergent lines, The transverse ropes with pearls enormous strung, A rugged shell emboss'd with sea-weed shines. The yards with icicles grotesquely hung.
From age to age increased with annual snow, Wrapt in the topmost shrouds there rests a boy,
This new Mont Blanc among the clouds may glow, His old sea-faring father's only joy ;
Whose conic peak, that earliest greets the dawn, Sprung from a race of rovers, ocean-born,
And latest from the sun's shut eye withdrawn, Vured at the helm, he trod dry-land with scorn; Shall from the zenith, through incumbent gloom, Through fourscore years from port to port he veer'd, Burn like a lamp upon this naval tomb. Quicksand, nor rock, nor foe, nor tempest fear'd; But when th' archangel's trumpet sounds on high, Vow east ashore, though like a hulk he lie,
The pile shall burst to atoms through the sky, His son at sea is ever in his eye,
And leave its dead, upstarting, at the call,
Naked and pale, before the Judge of all.
Once more to Greenland's long-forsaken beach,
1 The Danish Chronicle gays, that the Greenland colonists Coogeal'd to adamant his frame shall last,
were tributary to the kings of Norway from the year 1023 ; soon Though empires change, till time and tide be past
after which they embraced Christianity. In its more flourishing period this province is stated to have been divided into a hundred parishes, under the superintendence of a bishop. From
1190 to 140%, the succession of seventeen bishops is recorded. 1 The depopulation of old Greenland is supposed to have been in the last-mentioned year, Andreu, ordained bishop of Greengreatly accelerated by the introduction of the plague, which, land by Askill, archbishop of Drontheim, sailed for his diocese. eader the name of the Black Death, made dreadful havoc but whether he arrived there, or was cast away, was neve' theroughout Europe towards the close of the fourteenth century. known. To his imagined fate this episode alludes.