To An Alaskan Glacier

By Charles Augustus Keeler

Out of the cloud-world sweeps thy awful form,
Vast frozen river, fostered by the storm
Up on the drear peak’s snow-encumbered crest,
Thy sides deep grinding in the mountain’s breast
As down its slopes thou ploughest to the sea
To leap into thy mother’s arms, and be
There cradled into nothingness. How slow,
How imperceptible, thy ceaseless flow,
As one with an eternity unspent
Wherein to round thy task of wonderment!
Thy strength resistless is as will of fate;
The granite ground to sand beneath thy weight,
The mountains hollowed out with furrows deep,
The sculptured peaks that totter from their steep,
All bear the matchless impress of thy skill,
Grim mountain hewer! With a sudden thrill
Great bergs crash thunderously beneath the tide,
And, slow emerging, o’er the waters ride
Like boats of pearl slow floating to their doom,
Which, fondly, the soft lapping waves consume.

I walked erstwhile upon thy frozen waves,
And heard the streams amid thy ice-locked caves;
I peered down thy crevasses blue and dim,
Standing in awe upon the dizzy rim.
Beyond me lay the inlet still and blue,
Behind, the mountains loomed upon the view
Like storm-wraiths gathered from the low-hung sky.
A gust of wind swept past with heavy sigh,
And lo! I listened to the ice-stream’s song
Of winter, when the nights grow dark and long,
And bright stars flash above thy fields of snow,
The cold waste sparkling in the pallid glow,
Or, when the storms wail round thy peaks and spires,
Playing weird notes upon thy ice-wrought lyres
Until the shuddering pinnacles, astrain,
Tumble and crash amidst the seething main.
Years, centuries and eons thou hast known,
Waxing and waning in the wilds alone,
Hoar mountain sculptor, shaper of the earth!
The crystals of the snow which gave thee birth,
Renewing still thy life, are o’er thee spread,
And, as they fall, thou quiverest in thy bed,
Stretching thy vastness down its narrow way
And roaring like a god in fierce dismay;
Thus prisoned, eager in one mighty throe
To leap into the sea and end thy woe!

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