Thursday, April 7, 2016

Impressions by Captian Robert Falcon Scott

 I am reading 'Scott's Last Expedition,' the journals of his fateful trek to the South Pole. In the journal, Scott recorded his impressions of the surroundings as the men prepared the depots at One Ton Camp. I don't know if I would readily call this a poem, but it is a beautiful stream-of-consciousness litany that pulls you into the white world of Antarctica, pulsing with the excitement and hope that the polar explorers carried within themselves.


                (from Captain Robert Falcon Scott's Journals)

The seductive folds of the sleeping-bag.

The hiss of the primus and the fragrant steam of the cooker issuing from the tent ventilator.

The small green tent and the great white road.

The whine of a dog and the neigh of our steeds.

The driving cloud of powdered snow.

The crunch of footsteps which break the surface crust.

The wind blown furrows.

The blue arch beneath the smoky cloud.

The crisp ring of the ponies' hoofs and the swish of the following sledge.

The droning conversation of the march as driver encourages or chides his horse.

The patter of dog pads.

The gentle flutter of our canvas shelter.

Its deep booming sound under the full force of a blizzard.

The drift snow like finest flour penetrating every hole and corner--flickering up beneath one's head covering, pricking sharply as a sand blast.

The sun with blurred image peeping shyly through the wreathing drift giving pale shadowless light.

The eternal silence of the great white desert. Cloudy columns of snow drift advancing from the south, pale yellow wraiths, heralding the coming storm, blotting out one by one the sharp-cut lines of the land.

The blizzard, Nature's protest--the crevasse, Nature's pitfall--that grim trap for the unwary--no hunter could conceal his snare so perfectly--the light rippled snow bridge gives no hint or sign of the hidden danger, its position unguessable till man or beast is floundering, clawing and struggling for foothold on the brink.

The vast silence broken only by the mellow sounds of the marching column.

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