The Iceberg

I was spawned from the glacier,
   A thousand miles due north
   Beyond Cape Chidley;
   And the spawning,
   When my vast, wallowing bulk went under,
   Emerged and heaved aloft,
   Shaking down cataracts from its rocking sides,
   With mountainous surge and thunder
   Outraged the silence of the Arctic sea.

    Before I was thrust forth
  A thousand years I crept,
  Crawling, crawling, crawling irresistibly,
  Hid in the blue womb of the eternal ice,
  While under me the tortured rock
  And over me the immeasurable desolation slept.

    Under the pallid dawning
  Of the lidless Arctic day
  Forever no life stirred.
  No wing of bird --
  Of ghostly owl low winnowing
  Or fleet-winged ptarmigan fleeing the pounce of death, --
  No foot of backward-glancing fox
  Half glimpsed, and vanishing like a breath, --
  No lean and gauntly stalking bear,
  Stalking his prey.
  Only the white sun, circling the white sky.
  Only the wind screaming perpetually.

    And then the night --
  The long night, naked, high over the roof of the world,
  Where time seemed frozen in the cold of space, --
  Now black, and torn with cry
  Of unseen voices where the storm raged by,
  Now radiant with spectral light
  As the vault of heaven split wide
  To let the flaming Polar cohorts through,
  And close ranked spears of gold and blue,
  Thin scarlet and thin green,
  Hurtled and clashed across the sphere
  And hissed in sibilant whisperings,
  And died.
  And then the stark moon, swinging low,
  Silver, indifferent, serene,
  Over the sheeted snow.

    But now, an Alp afloat,
  In seizure of the surreptitious tide,
  Began my long drift south to a remote
  And unimagined doom.
  Scornful of storm,
  Unjarred by thunderous buffetting of seas,
  Shearing the giant floes aside,
  Ploughing the wide-flung ice-fields in a spume
  That smoked far up my ponderous flanks,
  Onward I fared,
  My ice-blue pinnacles rendering back the sun
  In darts of sharp radiance;
  My bases fathoms deep in the dark profound.

    And now around me
  Life and the frigid waters all aswarm.
  The smooth wave creamed
  With tiny capelin and the small pale squid, --
  So pale the light struck through them.
  Gulls and gannets screamed
  Over the feast, and gorged themselves, and rose,
  A clamour of weaving wings, and hid
  Momently my face.
  The great bull whales
  With cavernous jaws agape,
  Scooped in the spoil, and slept,
  Their humped forms just awash, and rocking softly, --
  Or sounded down, down to the deeps, and nosed
  Along my ribbed and sunken roots,
  And in the green gloom scattered the pasturing cod.

    And so I voyaged on, down the dim parallels,
  Convoyed by fields
  Of countless calving seals
  Mild-featured, innocent-eyed, and unforeknowing
  The doom of the red flenching knives.
  I passed the storm-racked gate
  Of Hudson Strait,
  And savage Chidley where the warring tides
  In white wrath seethe forever.
  Down along the sounding shore
  Of iron-fanged, many-watered Labrador
  Slow weeks I shaped my course, and saw
  Dark Mokkowic and dark Napiskawa,
  And came at last off lone Belle Isle, the bane
  Of ships and snare of bergs.
  Here, by the deep conflicting currents drawn,
  I hung,
  And swung,
  The inland voices Gulfward calling me
  To ground amid my peers on the alien strand
  And roam no more.
  But then an off-shore wind,
  A great wind fraught with fate,
  Caught me and pressed me back,
  And I resumed my solitary way.

    Slowly I bore
  South-east by bastioned Bauld,
  And passed the sentinel light far-beaming late
  Along the liners' track,
  And slanted out Atlanticwards, until
  Above the treacherous swaths of fog
  Faded from the view the loom of Newfoundland.

    Beautiful, ethereal
  In the blue sparkle of the gleaming day,
  A soaring miracle
  Of white immensity,
  I was the cynosure of passing ships
  That wondered and were gone,
  Their wreathed smoke trailing them beyonf the verge.
  And when in the night they passed --
  The night of stars and calm,
  Forged up and passed, with churning surge
  And throb of huge propellers, and long-drawn
  Luminous wake behind,
  And sharp, small lights in rows,
  I lay a ghost of menace chill and still,
  A shape pearl-pale and monstrous, off to leeward,
  Blurring the thin horizon line.

    Day dragg
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Submitted on May 13, 2011

Modified on March 05, 2023

3:28 min read

Quick analysis:

Closest metre Iambic tetrameter
Characters 4,208
Words 695
Stanzas 9
Stanza Lengths 9, 7, 12, 16, 13, 16, 25, 7, 16

Sir Charles George Douglas Roberts

Sir Charles George Douglas Roberts (January 10, 1860 – November 26, 1943) was a Canadian poet and prose writer. He was one of the first Canadian authors to be internationally known. more…

All Sir Charles George Douglas Roberts poems | Sir Charles George Douglas Roberts Books

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    "The Iceberg" STANDS4 LLC, 2024. Web. 16 Jun 2024. <>.

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