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

Miscellaneous: North Pole

Prayer at the Pole

By Sallie Bridges

A LITTLE group of worn-out men,

With weary limbs and shattered forms,

Whose stalwart wills and gallant hearts

Were strong to face dark danger’s storms!

And one amidst them, slight of frame,

And pale from strife with death and pain,

A hero’s soul, whose martyr zeal

Bore nobly suffering’s cankering chain!

They met within the solemn aisles

Of ice-built shrine, a temple grand,

Alone upon a frozen sea,

The saving and the rescued band,

Mid crystal columns reared aloft

Against a gray and cloud-draped dome,—

The only thing—that shadowed sky—

In all the waste that looked like home!

They stood with bowed, uncovered heads,

With reverent mien and moistened eyes,

Remembering scenes that long had passed,

Recalling love’s most tender ties,

As softly on the keen, cold air

Their leader’s voice rose calm and clear,

And raised, like prophet’s tone, the hope

That in each heart had found a bier.

Few words of humble, grateful praise,

For guidance, life, and rest, a prayer,

A low “Amen” from quivering lips,

Were all the pomps of service there!

It gave them strength to conquer death;

It made them brave to dare and do;

It kept them faithful to the end,

A band of brothers, tried and true!

Then bless them, souls of Christian men

O’er all the earth who praise and pray;

And bless him most of all, their chief,

Who first in duty led the way,—

Who first upon those regions drear

Of frozen, unknown waters spoke

The name of Christ, whose world-blessed sound

The solitude of silence broke!

Those polar mounts of ice may melt

Beneath the Arctic’s summer skies;

May speed the nations’ hoarded wealth,

And ’neath the tropics ebb and rise;

Yet bear abroad, where’er they flow,

That baptism of the holy Name

They echoed from his voice who died

And left those bergs to spread his fame!