Greenland's Icy Mountains

Original Text: 
William McGonagall, Poetic Gems (1890; Trowbridge and Esher: Trowbridge, 1975): 93-95. PR 4970 .M45 P6 1975 St. Michael's College Library
1Greenland's icy mountains are fascinating and grand,
2And wondrously created by the Almighty's command;
3And the works of the Almighty there's few can understand:
4Who knows but it might be a part of Fairyland?
5Because there are churches of ice, and houses glittering like glass,
6And for scenic grandeur there's nothing can it surpass,
7Besides there's monuments and spires, also ruins,
9And there's icy crags and precipices, also beautiful waterfalls,
10And as the stranger gazes thereon, his heart it appals
11With a mixture of wonder, fear, and delight,
12Till at last he exclaims, Oh! what a wonderful sight!
13The icy mountains they're higher than a brig's topmast,
14And the stranger in amazement stands aghast
15As he beholds the water flowing off the melted ice
16Adown the mountain sides, that he cries out, Oh! how nice!
17Such sights as these are truly magnificent to be seen,
18Only that the mountain tops are white instead of green,
19And rents and caverns in them, the same as on a rugged mountain side,
20And suitable places, in my opinion, for mermaids to reside.
21Sometimes these icy mountains suddenly topple o'er
22With a wild and rumbling hollow-starting roar;
23And new peaks and cliffs rise up out of the sea,
24While great cataracts of uplifted brine pour down furiously.
25And those that can witness such an awful sight
26Can only gaze thereon in solemn silence and delight,
28Would be forced to recognise the power and majesty of God.
29Oh! how awful and grand it must be on a sunshiny day
30To see one of these icy mountains in pieces give way!
31While, crack after crack, it falls with a mighty crash
32Flat upon the sea with a fearful splash.
33And in the breaking up of these mountains they roar like thunder,
34Which causes the stranger no doubt to wonder;
35Also the Esquimaux of Greenland betimes will stand
36And gaze on the wondrous work of the Almighty so grand.
37When these icy mountains are falling, the report is like big guns,
38And the glittering brilliancy of them causes mock-suns,
39And around them there's connected a beautiful ring of light,
40And as the stranger looks thereon, it fills his heart with delight.
41Oh! think on the danger of seafaring men
42If any of these mighty mountains where falling on them;
43Alas! they would be killed ere the hand of man could them save
44And, poor creatures, very likely find a watery grave!
45'Tis most beautiful to see and hear the whales whistling and blowing,
46And the sailors in their small boats quickly after them rowing,
47While the whales keep lashing the water all their might
48With their mighty tails, left and right.
49In winter there's no sunlight there night or day,
50Which, no doubt, will cause the time to pass tediously away,
51And cause the Esquimaux to long for the light of day,
52So as they will get basking themselves in the sun's bright array.
53In summer there is perpetual sunlight,
54Which fill the Esquimaux's hearts with delight;
55And is seen every day and night in the blue sky,
56Which makes the scenery appear most beautiful to the eye.
57During summer and winter there the land is covered with snow,
58Which sometimes must fill the Esquimaux' hearts with woe
59As they traverse fields of ice, ten or fifteen feet thick,
60And with cold, no doubt, their hearts will be touched to the quick.
61And let those that read or hear this feel thankful to God
62That the icy fields of Greenland they have never trod;
63Especially while seated around the fireside on a cold winter night,
64Let them think of the cold and hardships Greenland sailors have to fight.


8] bruins: brown bears. Back to Line
27] Godfearless: a word not in the OED. Back to Line
Publication Start Year: 
RPO poem Editors: 
Ian Lancashire
RPO Edition: