The Works of Edgar Allan Poe — Volume 2

By Edgar Allan Poe

Page 32

of the whirl was
represented by a broad belt of gleaming spray; but no particle of this
slipped into the mouth of the terrific funnel, whose interior, as far
as the eye could fathom it, was a smooth, shining, and jet-black wall of
water, inclined to the horizon at an angle of some forty-five degrees,
speeding dizzily round and round with a swaying and sweltering motion,
and sending forth to the winds an appalling voice, half shriek, half
roar, such as not even the mighty cataract of Niagara ever lifts up in
its agony to Heaven.

The mountain trembled to its very base, and the rock rocked. I threw
myself upon my face, and clung to the scant herbage in an excess of
nervous agitation.

"This," said I at length, to the old man--"this _can_ be nothing else
than the great whirlpool of the Maelstroem."

"So it is sometimes termed," said he. "We Norwegians call it the
Moskoe-stroem, from the island of Moskoe in the midway."

The ordinary accounts of this vortex had by no means prepared me
for what I saw. That of Jonas Ramus, which is perhaps the most
circumstantial of any, cannot impart the faintest conception either
of the magnificence, or of the horror of the scene--or of the wild
bewildering sense of _the novel_ which confounds the beholder. I am not
sure from what point of view the writer in question surveyed it, nor at
what time; but it could neither have been from the summit of Helseggen,
nor during a storm. There are some passages of his description,
nevertheless, which may be quoted for their details, although their
effect is exceedingly feeble in conveying an impression of the
spectacle.

"Between Lofoden and Moskoe," he says, "the depth of the water is
between thirty-six and forty fathoms; but on the other side, toward Ver
(Vurrgh) this depth decreases so as not to afford a convenient passage
for a vessel, without the risk of splitting on the rocks, which happens
even in the calmest weather. When it is flood, the stream runs up the
country between Lofoden and Moskoe with a boisterous rapidity; but the
roar of its impetuous ebb to the sea is scarce equalled by the loudest
and most dreadful cataracts; the noise being heard several leagues off,
and the vortices or pits are of such an extent and depth, that if a ship
comes within its attraction, it is inevitably absorbed and carried down
to the bottom, and there beat to pieces against the rocks; and when
the water relaxes, the fragments thereof are thrown up again. But these
intervals of tranquility are

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