Dear Readers, President Theodore Roosevelt wanted
to save this marvelous Natural Wonder for posterity! So
the Grand Canyon National Park was set up in 1919. In
1979 it was declared as World Heritage Site! With the
portion “Sun rises and sets over the Grand Canyon”, -
I have concluded this poem. Kindly take your time to read,
no need to comment in a hurry please ! Thanks, -Raj
CONCLUDING THE GRAND CANYON
STORY IN VERSE – RAJ NANDY
Literature about great natural features include
two personal types of writing;
Description of things observed, and impressions
of what is known and seen!
The story of the Grand Canyon takes us back
to the Pre-Cambrian Age,
When violent forces were unleashed from within
the Earth, during its formative stage;
When mighty forces of erosion began to sculpture
her undulating landscapes!
Therefore, I begin with a quote about Erosion,
From the great poet Alfred Lord Tennyson; -
“The hills are shadows and they flow,
From form to form, and nothing stands.
They pass like clouds, the solid lands.
Like clouds they shape themselves and go!”
TO RECAPITULATE PART ONE:
In Part One we have seen, how movement of
earth’s tectonic plates unleashed violent forces
It formed mountains and lakes, shaping our
landscapes, which now appear so peaceful,
grand, and serene!
Over millions of years the forces of erosion in
the form of wind, rain, sun and snow,
Sculptured earth’s evolving features creating
majestic, panoramic vistas as we know!
Geologists now opine, that the Grand Canyon
was carved out by the Colorado River, -
cutting through ‘layers of Geological time’!
THE COLORADO RIVER CARVED THE CANYON:
In the state of Colorado, from the high country,
Where snow and ice lasts well beyond the dawning
days of Spring;
There the majestic peaks of the Rockies form the
perennial fountain head from which springs, -
One of the great rivers of the world the Colorado;
Which travels 1400 miles through seven States
reaching the Californian Gulf west of Mexico!
Now during prehistoric days, the pristine Colorado
had flowed almost along the same path as today!
But after the magical rise of the Colorado Plateau
some five million years ago, (Refer Part One)
It had blocked the river’s path making it flow
south-east into the Gulf of Mexico!
Few Geologists now opine, that this diverted river
had formed the pre-historic Lake Bidahochi,
Which later drained out to form the Little Colorado
River, which today we get see!
But the cut-off western portion of the river (named
Hualapai Drainage) continued to eat away through
the Plateau’s southern portion,
Through a gradual process known as ’Headwater
For the river flowing at a steeper gradient along
the ‘Grand Staircase’ of the Plateau, carried
stones, rocks and debris,
Which formed the cutting tools, deepening the
Canyon over countless centuries!
When the softer sedimentary layers of the Plateau
below the top rocky layers gave away, - it resulted
in several rock falls!
While flash floods and erosion continued to breach
the sides of the canyon walls!
Thus over millions of years the width of the Canyon
While the gushing and untamed Colorado River
chiseled through the depths of those Cyclopean walls, -
Now the ancient Lake Bidahochi which had breached its
banks, had captured our pristine Colorado;
And their combined power increased the volume of
water and river’s chiseling power, with its rapid flow!
ENDANGERED COLORADO RIVER :
It is unfortunate that today, the Colorado no longer
reach the mighty Pacific as in the olden days!
With the progress of civilization and the spawning
of big cities,
Like Denver, Las Vegas, Phoenix and Los Angeles;
And to cater for the agricultural farmlands and the
Many dams got built to divert its water and to
Thus over a century of overuse and abuse of this
precious natural resource,
Gradually choked up the great Colorado, as it
became a mere trickle at the end of its course!
Ecologists now debate, while USA has launched
‘Save the Colorado River Project’!
Let us now cheer up by getting back to our
Grand Canyon’s scenic beauty,
Before concluding this wondrous Canyon Story!
SUN RISES AND SETS OVER GRAND CANYON!
To see the sunrise from Mather, Yaki, or the
Hopi Point, - located on the Southern Rim,
Becomes a life time experience, better than any
First a glimmer then a glow, when a faint blue-white
sheen begins to show!
As the sun gradually sprinkles its light, streaks of
crimson red spreads across the eastern sky!
Soon orange and yellow shafts of light, light up the
Canyon walls up high!
Squirrels scurry out of sight, and birds twitter in
The Hummingbird hovers like a helicopter, and
Big Horn sheep are also seen;
The Hummingbird which can even fly backwards,
enlivens this early morning scene!
The sun now rising in its resplendent glory,
showers the canyon with its kaleidoscopic beams;
With streaks of yellow, gold and red, it chases out
lurking shadows from within!
Like a curtain lifting before their eyes, the tourists
view this panoramic sight!
As the Grand Canyon awakens to greet the day,
With cameras madly clicking away!
The great ancestors of the Hopi tribe, Hopi
meaning both peaceful and wise;
Had inhabited these areas some eight thousand
Their scooped out granaries and tools found inside
Canyon walls, - have an ancient story to tell !
The Spaniards were the first Europeans to reach,
in search for gold which they never found!
But for the Hopis the Canyon remains, as their
sacred Holy ground!
When those Spaniards saw the Colorado way
down below, from the Canyon’s upper rim’s side;
They said that this thin blue streaked River, was
barely five feet wide! (In mid-16th century)
The average width of the Canyon is around 10 miles;
While the River at its narrowest point is 600 yards
The Condor the largest American bird, catching an
upward draft circles up high;
Like an uncrowned monarch he surveys his kingdom
below, nothing escapes his watchful eyes!
Temperature at the Canyon’s floor is 20 degrees
higher, when compared to its outer rim;
Supports an ecosystem of plants and animals,
With the river as chief nourisher of all things!
Evergreen pines and furs grow along the cooler
areas of the Canyon’s outer rim;
While cactus species are found on its arid floor,
Their exotic flowers bloom during Summer and Spring!
The Northern Rim a thousand feet higher, offers many
But the Southern Rim remains open throughout the
year, while the Northern closes during Winter time.
From the Hopi Point west of the Canyon, the visitors
enjoy the beauty of the silent, sinking sun;
When the sky gets diffused with vermillion red, as
darkening shadows engulf those Canyon walls!
The mighty Canyon with its Cyclopean walls,
perhaps the playground of the Titans from eons past;
Shaped by some mythical Vulcan, shall remain till
this World continues to last!
CONCLUDING THE GRAND CANYON STORY:
I conclude my Grand Canyon Story by quoting a
poem I had once read;
Written by an Anonymous author, whose name
I had failed to get!
“BUILT WITH PATIENCE OF ENDLESS TIME,
YEARS ERODE AND SHAPES DEFINE.
LAYERS YIELD THEIR COUNTLESS AGE,
EYES CAN SEE BUT CANNOT GAUGE!
STAND AGAPE WITH AWE INSPIRED,
IMAGE READS OF LIFE TRANSPIRED.
CLIFFS REACH OUT TO TOUCH THE SKY,
PATHS LEAD DOWN WHERE RIVER LYE.
COLORS, SHAPES AND SHADOWS MELD,
HERE, A PLACE FOREVER HELD.
WALK AWAY YET NEVER PART,
BODY LEAVES BUT NOT THE HEART!”
ALL COPYRIGHTS WITH THE AUTHOR RAJ NANDY
OF NEW DELHI, E-MAIL: [email protected]