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,

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

Five great cloudy columns rise,
To uphold the rolling skies:
Morning clothes with rainbow dyes

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

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,

Tall ghostly forms of sounding cloud
Clothe her in a rainbow shroud;
No bird of hers carols aloud,

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,

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,

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,

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Poem Submitted: Thursday, April 22, 2010

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