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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
Oceanica: Vol. XXXI. 1876–79.

Miscellaneous: Polar Regions

A Scene in the Polar Regions

By Jean Paul Richter (1763–1825)

Versified by C. T. Brooks

FAR in the north, behind the Orcades,

The setting sun a twilight glimmer shed;

Eastward afar the coasts of men were seen

Dim, shadowy, and spectral; like a still,

Broad land of spirits lay the vacant sea

Beneath the empty heavens;—here and there

Perchance a vessel skimmed the watery waste,

Like a white-winged sea-bird; but it moved

Too pale and small beneath the veil of space.

Sublime and awful solitude! the heart,

As it broods over thee, beats fast, and feels

Ennobled!—Thou, too, goest forth, pale sun;

Like a white angel, goest down to visit

The silent, ice-walled cloister of the pole,

And, drawing after thee thy bridal garment,

That floats in gold upon the weltering wave,

Veilest thyself around! Where art thou now,

Pale one in rosy robes? Wilt glimmer forth

Again into a warm and glowing eye

Among the ice-fields?—Standing here, I gaze

Down on the dreary winter of the world.

How dumb and endless is it down below!

The almighty, outstretched giant stirs himself

In all his thousand limbs, and wrinkles up,

And nothing remains great before him, save

His Father, the great Heaven!—Mighty Son!

Wilt lead me to the Father, when, at last,

I come to thee?—

Lo, what a gorgeous spectacle! Aurora

Upon the ruddy evening twilight glows,

With fast increasing light. What can it be

That rends away so suddenly the dark

Shroud of the watery Orcus? How the shores

Of men like golden morning blaze! Oh, art thou

Already come to us again, thou fair,

Majestic Sun, so young and rosy-red?

And wilt thou journey kindly yet once more

A long day’s journey o’er the fields of men?—

Glow upward, then, immortal one!—I stand

Yet cold and pale on my horizon: soon

I must go down to the dark realms of ice.

But shall I, too, like him, O God, arise

More warm and bright again, to journey through

A long, bright day in thy eternity?