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

Miscellaneous: Polar Regions

The Arctic Ocean

By Seymour Green Wheeler Benjamin (1837–1914)

A WEIRD and awful sea, its surges roll

In solitude, and unexplored expand

From age to age around the Arctic pole,

And beat with hollow roar a frozen land,

Whose adamantine crags behold no sail

Reel on that howling ocean to the northern gale.

No ancient capitals its shores adorn,

With domes and pinnacles glancing royal gold;

But on its wonderful, untrodden bourn

Rise battlements of ice, whose turrets, old

As the creation’s dawn, forever gleam

Like orient pearl beneath the North’s auroral beam.

No treasures delved by slaves in cavern gloom

Lie buried underneath its hoary wave;

Its wildest tempests never knolled the doom

Of wretches sinking to a watery grave.

Resounds not there the combat’s baleful trump,

Nor battle smoke enshrouds its midnight’s starry pomp.

The same as when the choral stars sang forth

Their jubilee throughout the eternal arc,

Still heaves the desolate ocean of the North;

Still o’er its waters broods primeval dark,

Mysterious twilight throbbing with the chime

Of constellations ringing out the march of Time.

Perchance the hero of the British isle,

Much wept, much sought for, slumbers on that coast,

His faithful comrades by his side; the while

For noble hearts that perished at their post

The dreary winds sweep o’er the angry surge,

And with a melancholy music chant their dirge.

Ay, what a sepulchre for hero’s head!

The stars, undying links, light up his tomb,

Majestic bergs, like angels, watch the dead,

And ever upwards through the polar gloom

Most solemn and sublime the wild wind rolls

The grand cathedral hymn for the departed souls.