Snow in Abyssinia

William Witt Palmer

Bruce of Kinnaird could scarce repress the smile
  That twitched the bearded ambush of his mouth,
When, in his quest of the mysterious Nile,
  Amid the perilous wilds of the swart South,
An old man told him, with a grave surprise
  Which made his childlike wonder almost grand,
How, in his youth, there fell from out the skies
  A feathery whiteness over all their land,
A strange, soft, spotless something, pure as light,
  For which their questioned language had no name,
That shone and sparkled for a day and night,
  Then vanished all as weirdly as it came,
Leaving no vestige, gleam, or hue, or scent,
  On the round hills or in the purple air,
To satisfy their mute bewilderment
  That such a presence had indeed been there!

James Bruce was an explorer determined to find the source of the Nile. In 1770 he found what is regarded by some as the ultimate source of the Blue Nile, the springs of the Abay River in modern-day Ethiopia. Bruce claimed that he was the first European to discover the source, disputing the version of Spanish missionary Pedro Paez, whose memoir claimed he discovered the source as early as 1618.

Main Location:

Source of the River Nile, Blue Nile, Gish Abay, Ethiopia

The Blue Nile in the Ethiopian Highlands