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Henry Parker
The Iceburg
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This was published in Poems, 1850.

The Iceberg

We saw it in the dawning light--

A crystal mountain, dim and vast,

That rose abruptly thrice the height

Of any gallant vessel's mast;

And far away, on either hand,

It slept, a pale and shadowy land.


The surf was dashing at its base,

And all its sun-tipt summits sent

Their rillets foaming down its face;

It seemed a floating continent

That, broken from the arctic world,

to warmer zones the tides had whirled.


The sun arose; the precipice

Blazed forth in lights of every hue,

Like shivered rainbows in the ice--

The clearest green, the brightest blue,

Pure amber, purple, ruddy gold,

And silver spires, serene and cold.


Unnumbered forms of beauty rare,

Pale moons and meteors suns and stars,

And jewels such as sultans wear,

Seemed prisoned in with brazon bars,

Or as a thousand crystal balls

Were set for royal festivals.


We gazed until the glowing ice,

so clear and high, so bright and broad,

Grew like a dream of Paradise--

The New Jerusalem of God,

That fairer than the clouds of even,

Was seen descending out of heaven.


The gates of solid pearl were there;

The glassy streets, the polished walls,

Were glistening in the morning air,

As if with precious minerals--

With jasper, sapphire, emerald,

Too dazzling bright to be beheld.


Around the spires, the wreathing mist

Seemed angel-forms that flew or walked

On battlements of amethyst,

And there in sweet communion talked,

While we below were souls that wait

To enter through the glorious gate.


Alas, that with so heavenly dreams,

A thought of terror now should come;

The mount that thus in beauty beams

To sudden death our lives doom--

May whirl itself with fearful force,

And sink the ship that dares its course.

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