Roden Berkeley Wriothesley Noel

(1834-1894 / England)

Mosi-Oa-Tunya - Poem by Roden Berkeley Wriothesley Noel

SMOOTH river water holdeth softly furl'd
Thee, hoarded wonder of the wondrous world!
Ere thy tempestuous cataracts are hurl'd,
Mosi-oa-tunya!

Twenty miles away thy sound
Travels from the gulf profound
Of thine earth-convulsing bound,
Mosi-oa-tunya!

Five great cloudy columns rise,
To uphold the rolling skies:
Morning clothes with rainbow dyes
Mosi-oa-tunya!

Awful phantoms in the moon
Rise to thy tremendous tune:
When the fiery evening falls,
Hell sulphereous appals,
While thy blazing thunder calls,
Mosi-oa-tunya!

The huge Mowana, and the Mohonono,
Like silvery cedar-trees of Lebabon,
Wave, with light palms, upon the pleasant isles
And shores, ere Leeambayee vanishes,
As though annihilate in his proud career:
Motsouri-cypress, yielding scarlet fruit;
All noblest equatorial trees adorn
His mile-wide water, clear as a clear day,
Gliding like lightning into the abyss.

Clear a moment, ere thou blanch
Into a mile-wide avalanche,
Snowfall lapsing twice the height
Of Niagara in his might!
Born of thy resounding day,
Myriad meteors o'er thee play:
There is an evergreen dark grove,
Guarded by thine own awful love:
Her inner melancholy no sun may move,
Mosi-oa-tunya!

Tall ghostly forms of sounding cloud
Clothe her in a rainbow shroud;
No bird of hers carols aloud,
Mosi-oa-tunya!

Down the rock's tremendous face,
Foam-rills, tremulous like lace,
Flow from roots that grasp the place,
To where thy vaporous cauldrons hiss;
But ere they may attain to this,
Smoke roaring, whirl'd from the abyss,
Licks them off precipitous stone,
High into a cloudy zone,
Mosi-oa-tunya!

Water and wind jamm'd in a chasm profound,
Tortured, pent-up, and madden'd, with strong sound
War in world-ruining chaos, fierce rebounding;
A wild tumultuous rumour, earth and heaven confounding.

After, the river rushes, a long green
Serpent, convolved about dark promontories
Of sternest basalt, in the unfathomable
Chasm to and fro, a swift fork'd lightning-flash;
But all the promontories are crown'd with trees,
Gorgeous blooming herbage and tall flowers.

On a green island, hanging o'er the flood,
Even where it falleth, lovely flowers are wooed,
And with eternal youth imbued,
By a lapse of gentle rain
From the cataract's hurricane:
Love celestial in showers
Falls from devastating powers!
Under the foam-bow and the cloud,
Here where thunders peal aloud,
Human souls with trembling bow'd,
Mosi-oa-tunya!

Cruel lords of all the isles,
Though a heavenly rainbow smiles,
Only feel bewildering annihilating terror;
Offer human lives to thee in blind, bewilder'd error.
Love abideth still, sublime
O'er the roar and whirl of Time,
Foam-bow of a sunnier clime,
Mosi-oa-tunya!


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Poem Submitted: Thursday, April 22, 2010



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