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Polar Bear

by Isaac McLellan

(Ursus maritimus)

Amid the vast, eternal ice,
The crystal plain, the drifting floe,
Dark chasm, awful precipice,
Buried for ages deep in snow,
The polar white bear, grim and gaunt,
Chooseth his solitary haunt.
In cavern with its icy wall,
With adamantine floor outspread,
Where freeze the raindrops as they fall,
Stalactites glisten overhead
Like pearly spar in grottoes dim
That with a prismy lustre swim,
This monarch of the desert drear
Dwells thro' the dark, inclement year.
Little of breathing life, I ween,
Across the frozen waste is seen,
Only the screaming auk and gull
In restless flocks the breezes fan,
And eider-duck and wailing loon,
Or the white-plumag'd ptarmigan.
Man seldom wanders o'er the plain
To trespass on thy savage reign;
Only the fur-clad Esquimau,
Bearing his bone-lance or the bow,
Or crossing with his skin canoe
Some open water cold and blue,
May venture to dispute thy sway
And dare thee in the frozen way.