MacMillan's Reading Books eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 344 pages of information about MacMillan's Reading Books.
ice-drift, and tormented by furious pulses of contending tide, until the roots of the last forests fail from among the hill ravines, and the hunger of the north wind bites their peaks into barrenness; and, at last, the wall of ice, durable like iron, sets, death-like, its white teeth against us out of the polar twilight.  And, having once traversed in thought this gradation of the zoned iris of the earth in all its material vastness, let us go down nearer to it, and watch the parallel change in the belt of animal life:  the multitudes of swift and brilliant creatures that glance in the air and sea, or tread the sands of the southern zone; striped zebras and spotted leopards, glistening serpents, and birds arrayed in purple and scarlet.  Let us contrast their delicacy and brilliancy of colour, and swiftness of motion, with the frost-cramped strength, and shaggy covering, and dusky plumage of the northern tribes; contrast the Arabian horse with the Shetland, the tiger and leopard with the wolf and bear, the antelope with the elk, the bird of Paradise with the osprey; and then, submissively acknowledging the great laws by which the earth and all that it bears are ruled throughout their being, let us not condemn, but rejoice in the expression by man of his own rest in the statues of the lands that gave him birth.  Let us watch him with reverence as he sets side by side the burning gems, and smooths with soft sculpture the jasper pillars that are to reflect a ceaseless sunshine, and rise into a cloudless sky; but not with less reverence let us stand by him, when, with rough strength and hurried stroke, he smites an uncouth animation out of the rocks which he has torn from among the moss of the moor-land, and heaves into the darkened air the pile of iron buttress and rugged wall, instinct with work of an imagination as wild and wayward as the northern sea; creations of ungainly shape and rigid limb, but full of wolfish life; fierce as the winds that beat, and changeful as the clouds that shade them.


* * * * *


      The western waves of ebbing day
      Rolled o’er the glen their level way;
      Each purple peak, each flinty spire,
      Was bathed in floods of living fire. 
      But not a setting beam could glow
      Within the dark ravines below,
      Where twined the path, in shadow hid,
      Bound many a rocky pyramid,
      Shooting abruptly from the dell
      Its thunder-splintered pinnacle;
      Bound many an insulated mass,
      The native bulwarks of the pass,
      Huge as the tower which builders vain
      Presumptuous piled on Shinar’s plain. 
      The rocky summits, split and rent,
      Formed turret, dome, or battlement. 
      Or seemed fantastically set
      With cupola or minaret,
      Wild crests as pagod ever decked,
      Or mosque of eastern architect. 

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MacMillan's Reading Books from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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