« PreviousContinue »
A stunted, stern, uncouth, amphibious stock,
Hewn from the living marble of the rock,
Or sprung from mermaids, and in ocean's bed,
With orcs and seals, in sunless caverns bred,
They might have held, from unrecorded time,
Sole patrimony in that hideous clime,
So lithe their limbs, so fenced their frames to bear
The intensest rigors of the polar air;
Nimble, and muscular, and keen to run
The reindeer down a circuit of the sun;
To climb the slippery cliffs, explore their cells,
And storm and sack the sea-birds' citadels;
In bands, through snows, the mother-bear to trace,
Slay with their darts the cubs in her embrace,
And while she lick'd their bleeding wounds, to brave
Her deadliest vengeance in her inmost cave:
Train'd with inimitable skill to float,
Each, balanced in his bubble of a boat,
With dexterous paddle steering through the spray,
With poised harpoon to strike his plunging prey,
As though the skiff, the seaman, oar, and dart
Were one compacted body, by one heart
With instinct, motion, pulse, empower'd to ride,
A human Nautilus upon the tide;
Or with a fleet of Kayaks to assail
The desperation of the stranded whale,
When wedged 'twixt jagged rocks he writhes and roll
In agony among the ebbing shoals,
Lashing the waves to foam; until the flood,
From wounds, like geysers, seems a bath of blood,
Echo all night dumb-pealing to his roar;
Till morn beholds him slain along the shore.
Of these,-hereafter should the lyre be strung
To arctic themes,-may glorious days be sung;
Now be our task the sad reverse to tell,
How in their march the nobler Normans fell; 1
-Whether by dire disease, that turn'd the breath
Of bounteous Heaven to pestilence and death,
In number, strength, and spirit worn away,
Their lives became the cool assassin's prey;
--Or in the battle-field, as Skraellings boast,
These pigmies put to flight their giant-host,
When front to front on scowling cliffs they stood,
And shot their barbs athwart the parting flood;
Arrow smote arrow, dart encounter'd dart,
From hand to hand, impaling heart for heart;
Till spent their missiles; quick as in a dream
The images are changed; across the stream
The Skraellings rush'd, the precipices scaled;
-O'erwhelm'd by multitudes the Normans fail'd;
A scatter'd remnant to the south retired,
But one by one along their route expired:
They perish'd;-History can no more relate
Of their obscure and unlamented fate;
They perish'd;-yet along that western shore
Where Commerce spread her colonies of yore,
Ruins of temples and of homes are traced,
Steps of magnificence amidst the waste,
Where time hath trod, and left those wrecks to show
That life hath been, where all is Death below.
the western coast of Greenland in the fourteenth century, and
are generally supposed to have overpowered the few Norwe-
gians scattered in that quarter. They were called Skraellings,
a word of uncertain etymology, but most probably a corruption
of Karallit or People, by which they designated themselves.
Of their origin nothing can be ascertained. It seems, on the
whole, not incredible (from evidence and arguments which need
not be quoted here), that they are the descendants of Tartar-
ean rovers, gradually emigrating from the heart of Asia, cross-
ing over into West America, traversing the northern latitudes
of that continent, and settling or wandering, as suited their
convenience, till the foremost hordes reached Canada and Lab-
rador; from whence the first Skraellings may have found a pas-
sage, by land or sea, to Greenland. That the Greenlanders are
of the same stock with the Esquimaux, is obvious from the re-
markable correspondence between their persons, dress, habita-
tions, boats, and implements of hunting and fishing, as well as
the similarity of manners, customs, superstitions, and language.
Of these more may be said hereafter, should the poem of Green-
land ever be completed. Meanwhile the slight sketch given in
the context may suffice. The following description of a Green-
lander's fishing-boat, or kayak, will, however, be useful to il-
lustrate the passage. The kayak is six yards in length, pointed
at the head and stern, and shaped like a weaver's shuttle; it is
at the same time scarcely a foot and a half broad over the mid-
dle, and not more than a foot deep. It is built of a slender skel-
eton of wood, consisting of a keel, and long side-laths, with
cross-ribs, like hoops, but not quite round. The whole is cov-
ered with seal's skin. In the middle of this covering there is a
round aperture, supported with a strong rim of wood or bone.
The Greenlander slips into the cavity with his feet, and sits down Bear me through scenes unutterably dark;
upon a board covered with soft skin; he then tucks his water-Scenes with the mystery of Nature seal'd,
pelt, or great coat, so tight about him (the rim of the opening
LAUNCH on the gulf, my little Greenland bark!
forming a girdle round his loins), that no water can penetrate Nor till the day of doom to be reveal'd:
into his little skiff. His lance, harpoon, and fishing-tackle, are What though the spirits of the arctic gales
all arranged in due order before him. His pautik, or oar (made Freeze round thy prow, or fight against thy sails,
of red deal, and strengthened with bone inlaid), he uses with Safe as Arion, whom the dolphin bore,
admirable dexterity. This, except when he is using his weap-
ons, he grasps with both hands in the middle, striking the water Enamour'd of his music, to the shore,
on either side alternately, by which means he can sail at the
rate of tw or even twenty-four leagues a day. In his kayak
the Greenlander fears no storm, so long as he can keep his oar,
which enables him to sit upright among the roughest breakers,
or if overturned, while the head is downward under water, with
one stroke he can recover himself; but if he loses his oar, in a
high sea, he loses all. No European has ever yet been able to
learn to manage a kayak except in calm weather, and when he
had nothing to do but to row: to fish in it has been found im-
practicable to any but the natives themselves, trained from their
infancy to all the hardy exercises which constituted, before the
introduction of Christianity, the whole education of the poor
The depopulation of the Norwegian Colonies on the eastern coast of Greenland, and the abandonment of intercourse with it from Europe, in consequence of the increase of the arctic ices, about the beginning of the fifteenth century.
1 The incidents alluded to in this clause are presumed to have occasioned the extinction of the Norwegian colonists on the western coast of Greenland. Crantz says, that there is a district on Ball's River, called Pissiksarbik, or the place of arrows; where it is believed, that the Skraellings and Norwegians fought a battle, in which the latter were defeated. The modern Greenlanders affirm, that the name is derived from the circumstance of the parties having shot their arrows at one another from opposite banks of the stream. Many rudera, or ruins of ancien buildings, principally supposed to have been churches, are found along the coast, from Disko Bay to Cape Farewell.
On thee adventuring o'er an unknown main,
I raise to warring elements a strain
Of kindred harmony :-O lend your breath,
Ye tempests! while I sing this reign of death,
Etter dark sayings of the days of old,
In parables upon my harp unfold
Deeds perish'd from remembrance; truth, array'd,
Like heaven by night, in emblematic shade,
When shines the horoscope, and star on star,
By what they are not, led to what they are;
Atoms, that twinkle in an infant's eye,
Are worlds, suns, systems in th' unbounded sky:
Thus, the few fabled woes my strains create
Are hieroglyphics in a book of Fate,
And while the shadowy symbols I unroll,
Imagination reads a direr scroll.
Wake, ye wild visions! o'er the northern deep,
On clouds and winds, like warrior-spectres sweep;
Show by what plagues and hurricanes destroy'd,
A breathing realm became a torpid void.
The floods are raging, and the gales blow high,
Low as a dungeon-roof impends the sky;
Prisoners of hope, between the clouds and waves,
Six fearless sailors man yon boat, that braves
Peril redoubling upon peril past:
-From childhood nurslings of the wayward blast,
Aloft as o'er a buoyant arch they go,
Whose key-stone breaks;-as deep they plunge below;
Tayielding though the strength of man be vain ;
Struggling though borne like surf along the main :
In front a battlement of rocks; in rear,
Billow on billow bounding; near, more near,
They verge to ruin;-life and death depend
On the next impulse; shrieks and prayers ascend;
When, like the fish that mounts on drizzling wings,
Sheer from the gulf the ejected vessel springs,
And grounds on inland ice, beyond the track
Of hissing foam-wreaths, whence the tide roll'd back;
Then ere that tide, returning to the charge,
Swallows the wreck, the captives are at large.
On either hand steep hills obstruct their path;
Behind, the ocean roaring in his wrath,
Mad as a Libyan wilderness by night,
With all its lions up, in chase or fight.
The fugitives right onward shun the beach,
Nor tarry till the inmost cove they reach,
Recluded in the labyrinthine dell,
Like the last hollow of a spiral shell.
There, with the ax or knife which haste could save,
They build a house;-perhaps they dig a grave:
Of solid snow, well-squared, and piled in blocks,
Brilliant as hewn from alabaster rocks,
Their palace rises, narrowing to the roof,
And freezes into marble, tempest-proof;
Night closing round, within its shade they creep,
And weary Nature sinks at once to sleep.
All that they have been, are, or wish to be,
In fancy's world!—each at his own fire-side;
One greets a parent: one a new-made bride;
Another clasps his babe with fond embrace,
A smile in slumber mantling o'er his face;
All dangers are forgotten in a kiss,
Or but remember'd to exalt the bliss.
-One wounded sufferer wakes, with pain opprest;
Yet are his thoughts at home among the rest;
Then beams his eye, his heart dilated burns,
Till the dark vigil to a vision turns,
That vision to reality; and home
Is so endear'd, he vows no more to roam.
Ha! suddenly he starts; with trembling lips,
Salt shower-drops, oozing through the roof, he sips;
Aware that instant, yet alarm'd too late,
-The sea hath burst its barrier, fix'd their fate;
Escape impossible; the tempests urge
Through the deep dell the inundating surge;
Nor wall nor roof th' impetuous flood controls,
Above, around, within, the deluge rolls;
He calls his comrades ;-ere their doom be known,
'Tis past;-the snow-house utterly o'erthrown,
Its inmates vanish; never to be found,
Living or dead, on habitable ground.
There is a beauteous hamlet in the vale; Green are the fields around it; sweetly sail The twilight shadows o'er the darkening scene, Earth, air, and ocean, all alike serene.
Dipt in the hues of sun-set, wreathed in zones,
The clouds are resting on their mountain-thrones;
One peak alone exalts its glacier crest,
A golden paradise, above the rest;
And in its own blue element expires;
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,
New-risen, a thousand glow-worm lights hath spread;
From east to west the wildfire splendors glance,
And all the billows in her glory dance;
Till, in mid-heaven, her orb might seem the eye
Of Providence, wide-watching from the sky,
Whose presence fills the infinite of space.
While Nature slumbers;-emblem of His grace,
The clouds have left the mountains; coldly bright
Their icy summits shed cerulean light;
The steep declivities between assume
A horror of unfathomable gloom :
The village sleeps ;-from house to house, the ear
Of yonder sentinel no sound can hear :
A maniac;-he, while calmer heads repose,
Takes his night-round, to tell the stars his woes :
Woes, which his noble heart to frenzy stung;
-He hath no bard, and they remain unsung.
A warrior once, victorious arms he bore;
And bears them still, although his wars are o'er;
For 't is his boast, with shield and sword in hand,
To be the guardian Angel of the land.
Mark with what stern solemnity he stalks,
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,
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,
But leaves a blessing, when he marches by:
He stops; from that low roof, a deadly groan
Hath made unutterable anguish known;
A spirit into eternity hath pass'd;
A spouse, a father, there hath breathed his last.
The widow and her little ones weep not;
In its excess their misery is forgot,
One dumb, dark moment;-then from all their eyes
Rain the salt tears, and loud their wailings rise:
Ah! little think that family forlorn
How brief the parting-they shall meet ere morn!
For lo! the witness of their pangs hath caught
A sight that startles madness into thought;
Back from their gate unconsciously he reels;
A resurrection of his soul he feels;
There is a motion in the air; his eye
Blinks as it fear'd the falling of the sky.
The splendid peak of adamantine ice,
At sun-set like an earthly paradise,
And in the moon of such empyrean hue,
It seem'd to bring the unseen world to view;
-That splendid peak, the Power (which to
The scene runs round with motion, rings with mirch
-No happier spot upon the peopled earth;
The drifted snow to dust the travellers beat,
Th' uneven ice is flint beneath their feet.
Here tents, a gay encampment, rise around,
Where music, song, and revelry resound;
There the blue smoke upwreathes a hundred spires,
Where humbler groups have lit their pine-wood fires
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
the Track the ice-firmament, like shooting stars,
Right to the goal, converging as they run,
They dwindle through the distance into one.
Where smoother waves have form'd a sea of glass.
With pantomimic change the skaiters pass;
Now toil like ships 'gainst wind and stream; then wheel
Like flames blown suddenly asunder; reel
Like drunkards; then dispersed in tangents wide,
Away with speed invisible they glide.
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.
And foot the mazes of the giddy dance;
Here youthful rings with pipe and drum advance,
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.
Those years to come the young shall ne'er behold;
The days gone by no more rejoice the old.
Had piled its turrets through a thousand years),
Touches, as lightly as the passing wind,
And the huge mass, o'erbalanced, undermined,
And dislocated from its base of snow,
Slides down the slope, majestically slow,
Till o'er the precipice, down headlong sent,
And in ten thousand, thousand spangles rent.
It piles a hill where spread a vale before:
-From rock to rock the echoes round the shore,
Tell with their deep artillery the fate
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 highway o'er the gulf to meeting friends,
Whom rocks impassable, or winds and tide,
Fickle and false, in summer months divide.
Of the whole village, crush'd beneath its weight.
-The sleepers wake, their homes in ruins hurl'd,
They wake-from death into another world.
The gazing maniac, palsied into stone,
Amidst the wreck of ice, survives alone;
A sudden interval of reason gleams,
Steady and clear, amidst his wildering dreams,
But shows reality in such a shape,
"T were rapture back to frenzy to escape.
Again the clouds of desolation roll,
Blotting all old remembrance from his soul;
Whate'er his sorrows or his joys have been,
His spirit grows embodied through this scene:
agony, and clenching hands,
Fix'd in recoil, a frozen form he stands,
And smit with wonder at his people's doom,
Becomes the monument upon their tomb.
Behold a scene, magnificent and new;
Nor land nor water meet th' excursive view;
The round horizon girds one frozen plain,
The mighty tombstone of the buried main,
Where dark, and silent, and unfelt to flow,
A dead sea sleeps with all its tribes below.
But heaven is still itself; the deep-blue sky
Comes down with smiles to meet the glancing eye,
Though if a keener sight its bound would trace,
The arch recedes through everlasting space.
The sun, in morning glory, mounts his throne,
Nor shines he here in solitude unknown;
North, south, and west, by dogs or reindeer drawn,
Careering sledges cross the unbroken lawn,
And bring, from bays and forelands round the coast,
Youth, beauty, valor, Greenland's proudest boast,
There is a boy, a solitary boy,
Who takes no part in all this whirl of joy,
Yet in the speechless transport of his soul,
He lives, and moves, and breathes throughout the
Him should destruction spare, the plot of earth,
That forms his play-ground, gave a poet birth,
Who on the wings of his immortal lays,
Thine heroes, Greenland! to the stars shall raise
It must not be:-abruptly from the show
He turns his eyes; his thoughts are gone below
To sound the depths of ocean, where his mind
Creates the wonders which it cannot find.
Listening, as oft he listens, in a shell,
To the mock tide's alternate fall and swell,
He kneels upon the ice,-inclines his ear,
And hears, or does he only seem to hear?-
A sound, as though the Genius of the Deep
Heaved a long sigh, awaking out of sleep.
He starts-'t was but a pulse within his brain!
No; for he feels it beat through every vein;
Groan following groan (as from a Giant's breast,
Beneath a burying mountain, ill at rest),
With awe ineffable his spirit thrills,
And rapture fires his blood, while terror chills.
The keen expression of his eye alarms
His mother; she hath caught him in her arms,
And learn'd the cause—that cause, no sooner known,
From lip to lip, o'er many a league is flown;
Voices to voices, prompt as signals, rise
In shrieks of consternation to the skies:
Those skies, meanwhile, with gathering darkness scowl;
Hollow and winterly the bleak winds howl.
-From morn till noon had ether smiled serene,
Save one black-belted cloud, far eastward seen,
Like a snow-mountain;-there in ambush lay
Thundreaded tempest, panting for his prey:
That cloud by stealth hath through the welkin
And hangs in meteor-twilight over-head;
At foot, beneath the adamantine floor,
Loose in their prison-house the surges roar:
To every eye, ear, heart, the alarm is given,
And landward crowds (like flocks of sea-fowl driven,
When storms are on the wing), in wild affright,
On foot, in sledges, urge their panic flight,
la hope the refuge of the shore to gain
Ere the disruption of the struggling main,
Foretold by many a stroke, like lightning sent
La thunder, through th' unstable continent,
Which now, elastic on the swell below,
Rolls high in undulation to and fro.
Men, reindeer, dogs, the giddy impulse feel,
And jostling headlong, back and forward reel:
While snow, sleet, hail, or whirling gusts of wind,
Exhaust, bewilder, stop the breath, and blind.
All is dismay and uproar; some have found
Death for deliverance, as they leap'd on ground,
Swept back into the flood;-but hope is vain:
Ere half the fugitives the beach can gain,
The fix'd ice, severing from the shore, with shocks
Of earthquake violence, bounds against the rocks;
Then suddenly, while on the verge they stand,
The whole recoils for ever from the land,
And leaves a gulf of foam along the shore,
In which whoever plunge are seen no more.
Ocean, meanwhile, abroad hath burst the roof That sepulchred his waves; he bounds aloof. In boiling cataracts, as volcanoes spout Their fery fountains, gush the waters out; The frame of ice, with dire explosion rends, And down th' abyss the mingled crowd descends. Heaven! from this closing horror hide thy light; Cast thy thick mantle o'er it, gracious Night! These screams of mothers with their infants lost, These groans of agony from wretches, tost On rocks and whirlpools-in thy storms be drown'd, The crash of mountain-ice to atoms ground, And rage of elements!-while winds, that yell Like demons, peal the universal knell, The shrouding waves around their limbs shall spread, "And Darkness be the burier of the dead." Their pangs are o'er-at morn the tempests cease, And the freed ocean rolls himself to peace; Broad to the sun his heaving breast expands, He holds his mirror to a hundred lands; While cheering gales pursue the eager chase Of billows round immeasurable space.'
His daughter in her prime; the youth, who won
Her love by miracles of prowess done;
With these, two meet companions of their joy,
Her younger sister, and a gallant boy,
Who hoped, like him, a gentle heart to gain
By valorous enterprise on land or main.
-These, when the ocean-pavement fail'd their feet
Sought on a glacier's crags a safe retreat,
But in the shock, from its foundation torn,
That mass is slowly o'er the waters borne,
An ice-berg-on whose verge all day they stand
And eye the blank horizon's ring for land.
All night around a dismal flame they weep;
Their sledge, by piecemeal, lights the hoary deep.
Morn brings no comfort; at her dawn expire
The latest embers of their latest fire;
For warmth and food the patient reindeer bleeds,
Happier in death than those he warms and feeds.
-How long, by that precarious raft upbuoy'd,
They blindly drifted on a shoreless void;
How long they suffer'd, or how soon they found
Rest in the gulf, or peace on living ground:
-Whether, by hunger, cold, and grief consumed,
They perish'd miserably-and unentomb'd
(While on that frigid bier their corses lay),
Became the sea-fowl's or the sea-bear's prey;
-Whether the wasting mound, by swift degrees,
Exhaled in mist, and vanish'd from the seas,
While they, too weak to struggle even in death,
Lock'd in each other's arms resign'd their breath,
And their white skeletons, beneath the wave,
Lie intertwined in one sepulchral cave:
-Or meeting some Norwegian bark at sea,
They deemed its deck a world of liberty;
an authentic narrative of a journey on sledges along the coast of Labrador, by two Moravian missionaries and a number of Esquimaux, in the year 1782. The first incident in this Canto, the destruction of the snow-house, is partly borrowed from the same record.
1 The Ice-bergs, both fixed and floating, present the most fantastic and magnificent forms, which an active imagination may easily convert into landscape-scenery. Crantz says, that some of these look like churches, with pillars, arches, portals, and illuminated windows; others like castles, with square and spiral turrets. A third class assume the appearance of ships in full sail, to which pilots have occasionally gone out, for the purpose 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
so immense a breadth of ice, are introduced on the authority of Amsterdam and Haarlem.
-Or sunward sailing, on green Erin's sod, They kneel'd and worshipp'd a delivering God,
Where yet the blood they brought from Greenland-"T is she! 't is she! the well-known keel at last,
Among the noblest of our sister's sons
-Is all unknown;-their ice-berg disappears
Amidst the flood of unreturning years.
Ages are fled; and Greenland's hour draws nigh;
Seal'd is the judgment; all her race must die;
Commerce forsakes th' unvoyageable seas,
That year by year with keener rigor freeze;
Th' embargoed waves in narrower channels roll
To blue Spitzbergen and the utmost pole;
A hundred colonies, erewhile that lay
On the green marge of many a shelter'd bay,
Lapse to the wilderness; their tenants throng
Where streams in summer, turbulent and strong,
With molten ice from inland Alps supplied,
Hold free communion with the breathing tide,
That from the heart of ocean sends the flood
Of living water round the world, like blood;
But Greenland's pulse shall slow and slower beat,
Till the last spark of genial warmth retreat,
And, like a palsied limb of Nature's frame,
Greenland be nothing but a place and name.
That crisis comes; the wafted fuel fails;'
The cattle perish; famine long prevails;
With torpid sloth, intenser seasons bind
The strength of muscle and the spring of mind;
Man droops, his spirits waste, his powers decay,
-His generation soon shall pass away.
And every sound along the air that comes,
The voice of clarions and the roll of drums.
At moonless midnight, on this naked coast,
How beautiful in heaven the starry host!
With lambent brilliance o'er these cloister-walls,
Slant from the firmament a meteor falls;
A steadier flame from yonder beacon streams,
To light the vessel, seen in golden dreams
By many a pining wretch, whose slumbers feign
The bliss for which he looks at morn in vain.
Two years are gone, and half expired a third
(The nation's heart is sick with hope deferr'd),
Since last for Europe sail'd a Greenland prow,
Her whole marine, so shorn is Greenland now,
Though once, like clouds in ether unconfined,
Her aval wings were spread to every wind.
The monk, who sits the weary hours to count,
In the lone block-house, on the beacon mount,
Watching the east, beholds the morning star
Eclipsed at rising o'er the waves afar,
As if, for so would fond expectance think,
A sail had cross'd it on the horizon's brink.
His fervent soul, in ecstasy outdrawn,
Glows with the shadows kindling through the dawn.
Till every bird that flashes through the brine
Appears an arm'd and gallant brigantine;
With Greenland's banner streaming at the mast;
The full-swoln sails, the spring-tide, and the breeze
Waft on her way the pilgrim of the seas.
The monks at matins issuing from their cells,
Spread the glad tidings; while their convent-bells
Wake town and country, sea and shore, to bliss
Unknown for years on any morn but this.
Men, women, children throng the joyous strand,
Whose mob of moving shadows o'er the sand
Lengthen to giants, while the hovering sun
Lights up a thousand radiant points from one.
The pilots launch their boats :-a race! a race!
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;
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,
How, in serene and dreadful majesty,
Sits the destroying Angel at the helm!
-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;
Harvest and vintage cast their timeless fruit,
Forests before him wither'd from the root.
To Greenland now, with unexhausted power,
He comes commission'd; and in evil hour
Propitious elements prepare his way;
His day of landing is a festal day.
A boat arrives-to those who scale the deck,
Of life appears but one disastrous wreck;
Fall'n from the rudder which he fain had grasp'd,
But stronger Death his wrestling hold unclasp'd,
The film of darkness freezing o'er his eyes,
A lukewarm corpse, the brave commander lies;
Survivor sole of all his buried crew,
Whom one by one the rife contagion slew,
Just when the cliffs of Greenland cheer'd his sight,
Even from their pinnacle his soul took flight.
Chill'd at the spectacle, the pilots gaze
One on another, lost in blank amaze;
But from approaching boats, when rivals throng,
They seize the helm, in silence steer along,
And cast their anchor, 'midst exulting cries,
That make the rocks the echoes of the skies,
Till the mysterious signs of woes to come,
Circled by whispers, strike the uproar dumb.
Rumor affirms, that by some heinous spell
Of Lapland witches, crew and captain fell;
None guess the secret of perfidious fate,
Which all shall know too soon,-yet know too late.
1 Greenland has been supplied with fuel, from time immemorial, brought by the tide from the northern shores of Asia, and other regions, probably even from California, and the coast of America towards Behring's Straits. This annual provision, however, has gradually been decreasing for some years past (being partly intercepted by the accumulation of ice), on the shores of modern Greenland towards Davis's Straits. Should it fail altogether, that country (like the east) must become unin-habitable; as the natives themselves employ wood in the construction of their houses, their boats, and their implements of fishing, hunting, and shooting, and could not find any adequate substitute for it at home
The monks, who claim the ship, divide the stores Of food and raiment, at their convent-doors.
-A mother, hastening to her cheerless shed,
Breaks to her little ones untasted bread;
Clamorous as nestling birds, the hungry band
Receive a mortal portion at her hand.