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"An Arctic Vision" by Bret Harte

The following is the complete text of Bret Harte's "An Arctic Vision." Our presentation of this poem comes from The Works of Bret Harte (1932). The various books, short stories and poems we offer are presented free of charge with absolutely no advertising as a public service from Internet Accuracy Project.

Visit these other works by Bret Harte
Brown of Calaveras
High Water Mark
How Santa Claus Came to Simpson's Bar
The Idyl of Red Gulch
John Jenkins; Or, The Smoker Reformed
The Judgment of Bolinas Plain
A Lonely Ride
"The Lost Galleon"
"The Luck of Roaring Camp"
The Man of No Account

"The Miracle of Padre Junipero"
Mr. Thompson's Prodigal
A Night at Wingdam
The Outcasts of Poker Flat
The Poet of Sierra Flat
The Right Eye of the Commander
The Romance of Madrono Hollow
"The Society Upon the Stanislaus"
"The Stage-Driver's Story"
Surprising Adventures of Master Charles Summerton
Tennessee's Partner

To see all available titles by other authors, drop by our index of free books alphabetized by author or arranged alphabetically by title.

Potential uses for the free books, stories and poetry we offer
* Rediscovering an old favorite book, short story, or poem.
* Bibliophiles expanding their collection of public domain eBooks at no cost.
* Teachers trying to locate a free online copy of a book or poem for use in the classroom.

NOTE: We try to present these classic literary works as they originally appeared in print. As such, they sometimes contain adult themes, offensive language, typographical errors, and often utilize unconventional, older, obsolete or intentionally incorrect spelling and/or punctuation conventions.

"An Arctic Vision" by Bret Harte


by Bret Harte

Where the short-legged Esquimaux
Waddle in the ice and snow,
And the playful polar bear
Nips the hunter unaware;
Where by day they track the ermine
And by night another vermin,--
Segment of the frigid zone,
Where the temperature alone
Warms on St. Elias' cone;
Polar dock, where Nature slips
From the ways her icy ships;
Land of fox and deer and sable,
Shore end of our western cable,--
Let the news that flying goes
Thrill through all your Arctic floes,
And reverberate the boast
From the cliffs off Beechey's coast,
Till the tidings, circling round
Every bay of Norton Sound,
Throw the vocal tide-wave back
To the isles of Kodiac.
Let the stately polar bears
Waltz around the pole in pairs,
And the walrus, in his glee,
Bare his tusk of ivory;
While the bold sea-unicorn
Calmly takes an extra horn;
All ye Polar skies, reveal your
Very rarest of parhelia;
Trip it, all ye merry dancers,
In the airiest of lancers;
Slide, ye solemn glaciers, slide,
One inch farther to the tide,
Nor in rash precipitation
Upset Tyndall's calculation.
Know you not what fate awaits you,
Or to whom the future mates you?
All ye icebergs, make salaam,--
You belong to Uncle Sam!

On the spot where Eugene Sue
Led his wretched Wandering Jew,
Stands a form whose features strike
Russ and Esquimaux alike.
He it is whom Skalds of old
In their Runic rhymes foretold;
Lean of flank and lank of jaw,
See the real Northern Thor!
See the awful Yankee leering
Just across the Straits of Behring;
On the drifted snow, too plain,
Sinks his fresh tobacco stain,
Just beside the deep inden-
Tation of his Number 10.

Leaning on his icy hammer
Stands the hero of this drama,
And above the wild duck's clamor,
In his own peculiar grammar,
With its linguistic disguises,
Lo! the Arctic prologue rises:
"Wa'll, I reckon 'tain't so bad,
Seein' ez 'twas all they had.
True, the Springs are rather late
And early falls predominate;
But the ice crop's pretty sure,
And the air is kind o' pure;
'Tain't so very mean a trade,
When the land is all surveyed.
There's a right smart chance for fur-chase
All along this recent purchase,
And, unless the stories fail,
Every fish from cod to whale;
Rocks, too; mebbe quartz; let's see,--
'Twould be strange if there should be,--
Seems I've heerd such stories told;
Ah!--why, bless us,--yes, it's gold!"

While the blows are falling thick
From his California pick,
You may recognize the Thor
Of the vision that I saw,--
Freed from legendary glamour,
See the real magician's hammer.

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