Home  »  Poems of Places An Anthology in 31 Volumes  »  Northern Seas

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

Miscellaneous: Polar Regions

Northern Seas

By William Howitt (1792–1879)

UP! up! let us a voyage take;

Why sit we here at ease?

Find us a vessel tight and snug,

Bound for the Northern Seas.

I long to see the Northern Lights,

With their rushing splendors, fly

Like living things, with flaming wings,

Wide o’er the wondrous sky.

I long to see those icebergs vast,

With heads all crowned with snow,

Whose green roots sleep in the awful deep,

Two hundred fathoms low.

I long to hear the thundering crash

Of their terrific fall;

And the echoes from a thousand cliffs

Like lovely voices call.

There shall we see the fierce white bear;

The sleepy seals aground;

And the spouting whales, that to and fro

Sail with a dreary sound.

There may we tread on depths of ice,

That the hairy mammoth hide;

Perfect as when, in times of old,

The mighty creature died.

And whilst the unsetting sun shines on

Through the still heaven’s deep blue,

We ’ll traverse the azure waves, the herds

Of the dread sea-horse to view.

We ’ll pass the shore of solemn pine,

Where wolves and black bears prowl;

And away to the rocky isles of mist,

To rouse the northern fowl.

Up there shall start ten thousand wings,

With a rushing, whistling din;

Up shall the auk and fulmar start,—

All but the fat penguin.

And there, in the wastes of the silent sky,

With the silent earth below,

We shall see, far off to his lonely rock,

The lonely eagle go.

Then softly, softly will we tread

By inland streams, to see

Where the pelican of the silent north

Sits there all silently.

But if thou love the Southern Seas,

And pleasant summer weather,

Come, let us mount this gallant ship,

And sail away together.