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Anna Jane Vardill

The Arctic Moon

When Briorn[1] sat on the land of ice,
 Where the cloudy Storm-God hovers,
Ere the four stars looked from northern skies,
 Or the sons of the West were rovers,
The voice of his Sire he remembered not,
 Nor the greeting by brothers spoken;
His home and his kindred were forgot,
 But he knew his first love’s token—
And the sound of his lost Therida’s name
On his ear like the breath of the south-wind came.

For we who live in the bright full moon[2]
 In her rainbow hover’d near him,
And we kept in her crystal halls a boon
 In the lonely hour to cheer him:
Then about his pillow of snow we stole,
And we gave to the eye of his dreaming soul
A mirror that shew’d the fair array
Of the loveliest hours that had pass’d away.

In the folds of our silver light we keep
 The joy that is lost too fleetly,
And we bring it again to bless the sleep
 Of him who serves us meetly:
We watch his bed, for we send forth all
The souls of men from our crystal hall,
And the music that dreaming mortals hear
Is the distant choir of their native sphere.

We watch the maiden’s funeral rite,
 Ere the snowy cheek is shrouded,
To take again the spirit of light
 That lived in her clay unclouded:
And we waft it away to our realms unseen,
Under icy arches broad and sheen,
Where a thousand gardens of lilies grace
The frozen Pole’s eternal base.

Woe to the ear that has heedless heard
 Our midnight song of warning!
And to him who wounds the azure bird
 We send in the cloud of morning!
He shall see his gallant vessel near
 The boat of the ocean-spider,
Its mast shall seem but a May-fly’s spear,
 And its cable the down of eider;
But when in the slumber of peace he lies,
That boat to a rock of ice shall rise;
When the gale is mute, and the hour is dark,
It shall hold in its chasm his rifted bark.
Till the mighty Serpent[3] has unfurl’d
The emerald folds that clasp the world.

But he who blesses our holy light
 With a pray’r to them that guide it,
Shall steer his bark thro’ the mists of night,
 Though a whirlpool yawns beside it.
We will build for him our rainbow-bridge,
From the torrent’s gulph to the mountain’s ridge;
His bark shall pass where the sea-snake’s fin
Is not slender enough its way to win;
And our light of love to the darkest pole
Shall follow and bless our kindred soul.


  1. This adventurer, when found at Spitzbergen by his countrymen, had forgotten his native language, and remembered nothing of his family till his wife’s ring was shewn to him. 
  2. The Arctic Moon often remains a fort-night unchanged. 
  3. The Green Serpent of Midgard is supposed to encircle the world. 

The European Magazine, Vol. 74, October 1818, p. 356