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Anna Jane Vardill

The Arctic Navigator’s Prayer

Spirit of Hope!—thy pinions fleet
May reach the Glacier’s stormy seat!
Thou of all elements the queen,
Shalt best illume the changeful scene,
Where ice gives fiery meteors birth,
And stiffen’d Ocean vies with Earth:
But first with bland and genial ray
Doubt’s freezing barrier melt away!
First save us from the blue fiend’s realm,
Whose fogs the fainting soul o’erwhelm:
From gloomy frost our colonies
Of gay and busy thoughts release,
That far in search of gems and flow’rs
Have stray’d from safe domestic bow’rs;
Like the lost race which home again
Norwegia’s pastor call’d in vain,
When savage Greenland’s giant shore
They tempted and returned no more. [1]

 Alas! thus Folly’s venturers roam
From the calm temperate zone of Home,
Of gaudy toys and plumes in quest,
Till bitter gales their speed arrest,
And bare and bruis’d their bark is hurl’d
On the cold Arctic of the World,
To dwell bound up in icy chains,
While Life’s long polar winter reigns,
In pomp magnificently drear
As the blank ice-field’s dismal glare,
Unless, like thee, some gentle star
Of kind affection gleams from far,
And leads to social duty’s track
The long-bewilder’d wanderer’s back.

 Spirit of Hope! at thy command
Yon scowling death-clime shall grow bland—
Come, and with playful meteors fill
Stern Winter’s empire dim and chill!
While icewinds breathe their cold monsoon,
Be thou th’unchanging Arctic Moon,
That dark and devious regions through
May lead the pilgrim’s frail canoe
To some bright cove, where long unseen
Our kindred hearts have shelter’d been!—
And though within the dread controul
Of that dark zone that binds the pole,
The needle from its place may turn,
And loadstones new attraction learn,
The true heart shall not lose its skill—
Home, home shall be its magnet still!


  1. In 1406, the seventeenth bishop of a colony settled at East Greenland was prevented from reaching them by a prodigious barrier of ice, and their fate has never been ascertained,

The European Magazine, Vol. 74, July 1818, pp. 61-62