White Polar Bear
By Isaac McLellan
In the far North where Arctic vigors reign
Man penetrates with awe the dreary scene,
Lured by weird glooms of the sunless year,
In silences of solitudes serene.
Like a vast ocean, waveless, frigid, white,
Faint-lighted by the crescent moonbeams’ glance,
Or by blue streams of auroral light,
The land stretch’d endless in its dim expanse.
There was no light or warmth to cheer the waste,
While the faint radiance of moon or star
Ting’d like a stormy sunset the deep snows,
Causing a mirage floating high and far.
Lamented Franklin here explorings made,
And with his seamen perish’d in the snow,
Where Hall, Kane, Peary, Greeley, gallantmen,
Sought the North Pole far as mankind could go!
There ‘mid grand icebergs slipping from the cliffs
Or on the drifting floes that chok’d the tide,
Gigantic Polar bears, so grim and gaunt,
In solitary majesty abide.
Their haunt is some vast cave with icy walls,
Where bright stalactics glisten overhead,
And pendent icicles drop splinter’d points,
Like pearly spars in grottoes overspread.
They live secluded thro’ inclement year,
All undisturb’d by step of human foe,
Save when at times, arm’d with the deadly lance,
Invading their retreats comes Esquimaux.
At times when whale-ships anchor by the shore,
And seamen cut the blubber from the whale,
The prowling bear-herds gather to the feast,
And with wild rush the mariners assail.
Little of life across these wastes is seen,
Save where the gull and auk go screaming by,
Or duck or loon or white-wing’d ptarmigan
Startle the silence with discordant cry,
Or musk ox or the walrus by the shore
For finny spoil the frozen space explore.