Shackleton the Poet

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.


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