Shackleton the Poet

December 12, 2007

From Diana Preston, A First Rate Tragedy: Robert Falcon Scott and the Race to the South Pole (New York, 1998), pg. 41.

Bernacchi was on duty one morning and described how a cheerful Shackleton came to relieve him at 4 a.m. ‘full of verses and warmth-giving navy cocoa… Shackleton was a poet and that morning poetically very wide awake, and… kept me from my waiting bunk reciting endless verses in the voice and manner of an old-time tragedian – “One moment, old son,” he wheedled, as I edged towards the gangway, “have you ever heard this?”‘ The cold, yawning young Australian physicist did not care whether he had or not and, throwing ‘politeness to he ice-floes’, decamped, leaving Shackleton to his poetry and the pale Antarctic light.


Feet on the Table

December 12, 2007

From Diana Preston, A First Rate Tragedy: Robert Falcon Scott and the Race to the South Pole (New York, 1998), pg. 41.

On the afternoon of 2 January 1902 the men of the Discovery gazed on their first icebergs, silent ambassadors of the approaching pack. The next day they crossed the Antarctic Circle, earning them the sailor’s traditional right to drink a toast with both feet on the table.