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sun a sportsman in the foretop was first to see a sail, and almost simultaneously he raised a cry of “ Whales to starboard !” For half an hour we watched them from the deck. They were three or four "right" whales at play about us, their massive black bulks rising from the gorgeous sea in a movement of great dignity and grace, then disappearing with a flap of the tail that lashed the sea into foam, only to rise again a moment later exhaling hot breath, which in the cold air turned instantly to vapor and shot upward in white spray like the spout of a fountain.
There was no darkness. The mystic twilight of the north fell upon us with the disappearing of the
The breeze had died away and the restfulness of perfect calm was upon land and sea, while over all, like an impalpable veil, fell the light that dims the sordid face of things and reveals the mystery and the wonder of the world, and fills us with ineffable regret and longing.
All day we sailed in view of our first Greenland haven. It was a cloudless day, with radiant sea and air, and a grateful warmth that made each quickening breath almost intoxicating. Far to the north, projecting from the mainland, with blue sky above and blue water beneath, we could see from early morning in clear mirage the precipitous cliffs above the harbor of Godhavn. Here were low-lying, lichen
covered rocks, almost level with the sea, and icebergs innumerable. It was an arctic scene far beyond imagining: a sky of warmth and color, a sea of the limpid, placid blue of the tropics, while in it, “ ice, mast high, went floating by,” not“ green as emerald,” but white, unmixed, undazzling white, “ so as no fuller on earth could white it.”
Nearer and nearer we drew to the rock-ribbed, iceencompassed shore. One always feels a quickening of the pulses in approaching a strange coast, even on the main-traveled highways of the world, but we were nearing now a land which had been visited by relatively few white men since its Norse civilization was destroyed and William Baffin made it known again to the modern world. To our minds it was associated only with all the romance and heroism and adventure of the seekers for the northwest passage and for the pole, by what explorers have called the 66 American route.” A land of unfathomable wonder it seemed to us, where day is an unbroken brightness for half the year and night a darkness for the other half, tempered only by the light of moon and stars; where a dwarfish race dress themselves in the furs of the animals upon which they feed, and lead a life whose conditions are wholly unrealized in the common lot of men.
WALTER A. WYCKOFF. From "With Arctic Highlanders," by permission.
PASSING THE ICEBERGS
A FEARLESS shape of brave device,
Our vessel drives through mist and rain, Between the floating fleets of ice —
The navies of the northern main.
These arctic ventures, blindly hurled,
The proofs of nature's olden force, Like fragments of a crystal world,
Long shattered from its skyey course.
These are the buccaneers that fright
The middle sea with dream of wrecks, And freeze the south winds in their flight,
And chain the Gulf Stream to their decks.
At every dragon prow and helm
There stands some viking as of yore; Grim heroes from the boreal realm
Where Odin rules the spectral shore.
And oft beneath the sun or moon
Their swift and eager falchions glow, While, like a storm-vexed wind, the rune
Comes chafing through some beard of snow. And when the far north flashes up
With fires of mingled red and gold, They know that many a blazing cup
Is brimming to the absent bold. Up signal then, and let us hail
Yon looming phantom as we pass ! Note all her fashion, hull, and sail,
Within the compass of your glass.
See at her mast the steadfast glow
Of that one star of Odin's throne; Up with our flag, and let us show
The constellation on our own.
And speak her well; for she might say,
If from her heart the words could flow, Great news from some far frozen bay,
Or the remotest Eskimo;
Might tell of channels yet untold,
That sweep the pole from sea to sea; Of lands which God designs to hold
A mighty people yet to be;
Of wonders which alone prevail,
Where day and darkness dimly meet; Of all which spreads the arctic sail ;
Of Franklin and his venturous fleet;
How, haply, at some glorious goal
His anchor holds — his sails are furled; That Fame has named him on her scroll,
“ Columbus of the Polar World."
Or how his plowing barks wedge on
Through splintering fields with battered shares, Lit only by that spectral dawn,
The mask that mocking darkness wears ;
Or how, o'er embers black and few,
The last of shivered masts and spars, He sits among his frozen crew
In council with the norland stars.
No answer - but the swollen flow
Of ocean heaving long and vast; —
- T. BUCHANAN READ.
Why does the sea moan' evermore?
- CHRISTINA G. ROSSETTI.