Other formats

    Adobe Portable Document Format file (facsimile images)   TEI XML file   ePub eBook file  


    mail icontwitter iconBlogspot iconrss icon

The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 45

The White Terrace

The White Terrace.

And then that wonder seems to be
A cataract carved in parian stone,
Or any purer substance known—
Agate or milk chalcedony!
page 76 Its showering snow cascades appear,
Long ranges bright of stalactite,
And sparry frets and fringes white,
Thick-falling, plenteous, tier on tier;
Its crowding stairs in bold ascent
Piled up that silvery glimmering height,
Are layers, they know—accretions slow—
Of hard silicious sediment;
For as they gain a rugged road,
And cautious climb the solid rime,
Each step becomes a terrace broad—
Each terrace a wide basin brimmed
With water brilliant, yet in hue
The tenderest, delicate hair-bell blue,
Deepening to violet! . . . .

* * * * * * * *

They climb those milk-white flats incrusted,
And netted o'er with wavy ropes
Of wrinkled silica, at last—
Each basin's heat increasing fast—
The topmost stair the pair surmount,
And, lo, the cause of all! Around
The circling cliffs a crater bound—
Cliffs damp with dark-green moss—then slopes
All crimson—stained with blots and streaks—
White-mottled and vermillion rusted;
And in the mist, beneath a cloud
That ever upwards rolls and reeks,
And hides the sky with its dim shroud,
Look where upshoots a fuming fount
Up through a blue and boiling pool,
Perennial a great sapphire steaming,
In that coralline crater gleaming,
Upwelling ever, amethystal,
Ebullient comes the bubbling crystal!

* * * * * * * *

But see! in all that lively spread
Of blue and white and vermeil red,
How dark with growths of greenest gloss,
Just at the edge of that first ledge,
A little rocky islet peeps
Into the crater cauldron's deeps.

* * * * * * * *

They note where'er by stop or stair,
By brimming bath, or hollow reef,
Or hoary plain, its magic rain
Can reach a branch, a flower, a leaf—
page 77 The branching spray, leaf, blossom gay,
Are blanched and stiffened into stone!
So round about lurks tracery strewn,
Of daintiest moulded porcelain ware,
Of coral wreaths and clusters rare,
A flint white foliage!—rather say
Such fairy-work as frost alone
Were equal to, could it o'erlay
With tender crust of crystal, fair-
Fine spikes so delicately piled—
Not wintry trees, leaf-stripped and hare,
But summer's vegetation, rich and wild.