(…) The rest is ice. Far hence, where, most severe,
Bleak Winter well-nigh saddens all the year
Their infant growth began. He bade arise
Their uncouth forms, portentous in our eyes.
Oft as, dissolved by transient Suns, the snow
Left the tall cliff to join the flood below,
He caught and curdled with a freezing blast
The current ere it reach’d the boundless waste.
By slow degrees uprose the wond’rous pile,
And long successive ages roll’d the while,
Till, ceaseless in its growth, it claim’d to stand
Tall as its rival mountains on the land.
Thus stood, and unremoveable by skill
Or force of man, has stood the structure still,
But that, though firmly fixt, supplanted yet
By pressure of its enormous weight
It left the shelving beach, and with a sound
That shook the bellowing caves and rocks around.
Self-launched and swiftly to the briney wave,
As if instinct with strong desire to lave
Down went the pond’rous mass. (….)
An excerpt from William Cowper’s poem “On the Ice-Islands Seen Floating in the Germanic Ocean,” from A Quark for Mister Mark : 101 poems about science, edited by Maurice Riordan and Jon Turney.