Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, A MIDNIGHT SUN EPISODE, by WILLIAM ALLEN BUTLER



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A MIDNIGHT SUN EPISODE, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Southward, gray peaks rise flecked with snow
Last Line: Our golden day in glory ends.
Subject(s): Night; Sun; Bedtime


SOUTHWARD, gray peaks rise flecked with snow,
Their rifted sides all fringed with green;
On mountain breast and waves below
Gleams one bright strip of sunset sheen;
Northward, deep gloom the sky enshrouds,
And, save that lone ray shot afar,
The Sun is chained in heavy clouds,
A King behind a prison bar.

Though still her westward course is free,
With sudden swing, our noble ship
No longer seeks the open sea,
But steers for yonder sunlit strip;
And while we start, in mute surprise,
To see this new, strange course begun,
Hark, from the bridge, the Captain cries,
"To-night we chase the Midnight Sun!"

Last night from off the grim "Nord Cap"
A denser cloud-belt loomed on high;
To-night the dusky folds enwrap,
With lighter grasp, a lower sky;
Above their edge a bright ray streams
And lights and cheers yon shining space;
Once there we too shall share its beams,
And so the Midnight Sun we chase.

Well pleased we sail, for he knows best,
Our Captain, whom we all obey,
To North or South, or East or West,
We follow where he points the way;
True seaman bold, at whose command
All risks we brave, all dangers shun;
Through sea, or strait, by shoal or strand,
We'll chase, with him, the Midnight Sun.

Vain quest; the glittering line recedes—
We follow on; it glides before—
With phantom dance it lures and leads
And beckons to the rock-bound shore;
Yet southward still we slowly sail,
And landward points our steady prow,
As though its steel-clad beak would scale
The snow-tipped mountain's gleaming brow.

Too late; the midnight bells have rung;
Too late; the cloud-bar tarries yet;
Seaward, once more, our ship is swung,
The Midnight Sun in gloom has set.
Still, lingering on the decks, we wait,
Or sadly vanish, one by one;
Alas! is this the hopeless fate
Of those who chase the Midnight Sun?

Look! look! The Captive King has torn
His riven chain in scattered rifts,
Full-orbed and free, in Midnight Morn,
The Sun his flaming disk uplifts.
"The Sun! The Sun!" The cry rings out,
The chase is o'er, the goal is won,
From sea to sky a joyous shout,
For we have found the Midnight Sun.

While from his chamber in the North,
From this his blazing Arctic throne,
New crowned, the bridegroom King goes forth
To light the globe from zone to zone,
To us he grants this perfect day
And floods its hours with cloudless light,
In regal splendor guides our way,
With noontide pomp from morn to night.

As from a golden beaker's brim,
All day, undimmed, his radiance pours,
Till, far above the ocean rim,
He slowly sinks and sets and soars;
And thus, by Tromsö's tranquil shore,
Where earliest dawn with midnight blends,
A dream of joy, forever more,
Our golden day in glory ends.





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