Are ye unholy shadows, that by fits
Start from your grave, and in your shining shrouds
Walk those high wastes, where desolation sits
Nursing the dreamer silence, 'mid the floods
And snow of centuries, and savage crowds
Of peaks, that cut with their sharp scythes of ice
The dusky myriads of the charging clouds
Led by the giant storm, whose fiery voice
Cries, Gather--and rush on, the seas beneath rejoice!
Wild phantoms of the dark, from height to height
Fresh leaping into being now, and lost--
Ye look like drunkards dancing through the night
And reeling o'er the slippery crags of frost,
Those snowy deserts bird has never cross'd,
Those frozen cataracts--those floods of stone,
Which in their hoar sublimity are toss'd
Down on the Esquimaux, who sinks alone
Beneath those worlds of ice when spring unbinds their zone.
Your mirror is those everlasting spars
Of stainless frost brush'd by the whirlwind bare,
Shooting like glory up among the stars,
Ye flash like moonlight on perdition; there
Ye've plough'd for centuries the fetter'd air,
Like Satan struggling over chaos--well
That savage region, where death makes his lair,
Might seem the monstrous billows of deep hell,
Frozen in their wildest roll by some almighty spell.
Ye leap in glory o'er those masses--ay,
In mute and dread magnificence, but none
Can mark your path of beauty in the sky,
Amid those crystal crags life never shone.
The whale, in storm and darkness dashing on,
The polar bear amid her howling brood,
The gaunt wolf gasping his expiring groan,
Are all the kin of your cold solitude,
Where silence stands in dread--as death had chill'd his blood.
The feeble pinions of the cheerless hour
Can bring no change within thy ghastly realm;
The sickly sunbeam in its short-lived power
Strikes vainly on the cliff's majestic helm;
The muttering hoar-frost soon can overwhelm
The struggling day-star--winter in his cloud,
With his sharp icy fingers, does embalm
The haggard form of nature in her shroud,
Whose features, turn'd to stone, remain when states have bow'd.
Methinks the first sad solitary bark
That, like a pilgrim, cross'd the frozen deep,
Whose stony floods were fetter'd in the dark,
Felt hope descending 'mid the horrid sleep
That gather'd o'er the elements--they'd keep
Their fond eyes fix'd upon the stainless blue
Of the chill sky, that bound each rolling heap,
And, as along the ice thy streamers flew,
Oh! they have knelt to thee, how lonely--yet how true!
When in his cloudy chariot, icy death
Rattled above them through the frozen scars
Of the sharp icebergs, whose destroying breath
Glued them like statues to their deck, thy bars,
Shooting athwart the Highlands of the stars--
Oh! they have bless'd--that momentary blaze
Which flashing on the desert's thousand spars,
Like hope upon desire, such beauteous rays
Which wafted warmly back the dreams of their young days.
Your realm is in that cold and frozen clime
Where ruin and old silence holdeth sway;
Where winter's breath has glued the wings of time
Like marble to the wizard's shoulders grey;
Where Hecla, like hell's altar, flames for aye,
His red plume plunging in the sunless heaven,
Lit by old earthquake, shining 'neath his ray
A vast eternity of glaciers riven
Gleam through the fetter'd air, like the last flush of even.
Fear walks a shadow o'er the horrid coast,
With finger on her lip and cloudy eye,
While death sits darkly on his throne of frost,
Waving his icy sceptre through the sky,
His tresses are the thunder storms that fly
In dread sublimity along the deep,
When in their caves the savage monsters die,
And the old glaciers, roused from years of sleep,
Crush the enormous whale, while in her maddest leap!