The New Zealand Reader
They paddle past—for on the right
Another Cataract comes in sight;
Another broader, grander flight
Of steps—all stainless, snowy bright!
They land—their curious way they track
Near thickets made by contrast black;
And then that wonder seems to be
A Cataract carved in Parian stone,
Or any purer substance known—
Agate or milk chalcedony!
Its showering snow-cascades appear
Long ranges bright of stalactite,
And sparry frets and fringes white,
Thick-falling, plenteous, tier o'er tier;
Its crowding stairs in bold ascent
Piled up that silvery-glimmering height,
Are layers, they know,—accretions slow,
Of hard siliceous 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 harebell-blue
Deepening to violet!
The twain, and turn from time to time
To mark the hundred baths in view—
Crystalline azure, snowy-rimmed—
The marge of every beauteous pond
Curve after curve—each lower beyond
page 48 The higher—out-sweeping white and wide,
Like snowy lines of foam that glide
O'er level sea-sands lightly skimmed
By thin sheets of the glistening tide.