Verse > Anthologies > Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. > Poems of Places > Oceanica
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed.  Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
Oceanica: Vol. XXXI.  1876–79.
Miscellaneous: North Pole
Prayer at the Pole
Sallie Bridges
A LITTLE group of worn-out men,
  With weary limbs and shattered forms,
Whose stalwart wills and gallant hearts
  Were strong to face dark danger’s storms!
And one amidst them, slight of frame,        5
  And pale from strife with death and pain,
A hero’s soul, whose martyr zeal
  Bore nobly suffering’s cankering chain!
They met within the solemn aisles
  Of ice-built shrine, a temple grand,        10
Alone upon a frozen sea,
  The saving and the rescued band,
Mid crystal columns reared aloft
  Against a gray and cloud-draped dome,—
The only thing—that shadowed sky—        15
  In all the waste that looked like home!
They stood with bowed, uncovered heads,
  With reverent mien and moistened eyes,
Remembering scenes that long had passed,
  Recalling love’s most tender ties,        20
As softly on the keen, cold air
  Their leader’s voice rose calm and clear,
And raised, like prophet’s tone, the hope
  That in each heart had found a bier.
Few words of humble, grateful praise,        25
  For guidance, life, and rest, a prayer,
A low “Amen” from quivering lips,
  Were all the pomps of service there!
It gave them strength to conquer death;
  It made them brave to dare and do;        30
It kept them faithful to the end,
  A band of brothers, tried and true!
Then bless them, souls of Christian men
  O’er all the earth who praise and pray;
And bless him most of all, their chief,        35
  Who first in duty led the way,—
Who first upon those regions drear
  Of frozen, unknown waters spoke
The name of Christ, whose world-blessed sound
  The solitude of silence broke!        40
Those polar mounts of ice may melt
  Beneath the Arctic’s summer skies;
May speed the nations’ hoarded wealth,
  And ’neath the tropics ebb and rise;
Yet bear abroad, where’er they flow,        45
  That baptism of the holy Name
They echoed from his voice who died
  And left those bergs to spread his fame!

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