Writer Chris Epting uses the haiku format to express his polar experiences. I can understand why. Gushing to anyone who will listen – and those who do not want to – about Antarctica or the Arctic is a first response inevitability. But there comes a time, when a visitor to the polar regions searches for the essence of the emotion of the experience. That is the moment when less becomes more.
I have been writing about the polar regions for more than seven years. In a year when centenaries are the norm, seven years is insignificant. I expect I’ll be writing about the north and south polar regions for the rest of my life. I have yet to express my deepest feelings with the precision they demand.
My quest to uncover polar poetry has led to the following links:
I was flabbergasted to discover that Emily Dickinson wrote something with an arctic aspect. I should not have been. Dickinson lived during that period of Arctic history when the Royal Navy searched for Sir John Franklin and his lost expedition. That event permeated English society like the aroma of roses on a summer’s evening.
If you want a sneak peek at Chris Epting’s polar haiku, you’ll have to join Facebook. You’ll have to scroll some, but you’ll find bite size pieces of his heart’s polar song.
Image via Wikipedia
Lt. Henry le Vesconte, one of Sir John Franklin‘s officers during the quest for the Northwest Passage, was purported to have been buried on King William Island in Canada’s High Arctic. In 1869, a skeleton that was thought to be his – for 142 years – was recovered. Until now.
English Heritage has conducted an autopsy and reconstructed the face, using forensic techniques unknown half a century ago. Lt. Le Vesconte has returned to the missing list. English Heritage has concluded that the remains may be that of Harry Goodsir, expedition naturalist and assistant surgeon.
You can read the full article on the Vancouver Sun website.
- Grave markers, Beechey Island, Canadian Arctic
An historic British naval vessel lost while attempting to discover the fate of John Franklin’s Northwest Passage expedition has been located. HMS Investigator was captained by Robert McClure. He and his crew were credited with locating the final leg of the fabled northern route to Asia.
McClure and his men were beset in the ice for two winters before abandoning ship. He returned to England a hero. His ship slept in a watery grave for more than a century and a half.
Parka politics were behind the discovery. So important was the find that a Cabinet Minister is on site, making statements about Canadian sovereignty. God Save the Queen, for her role as head of state is the thing that ties the past to the present and supports our claim of ownership.
Congratulations Parks Canada. Good luck as you endeavour to locate Erebus and Terror. That search will be conducted in August. Quark Expeditions’ icebreaker Kapitan Khlebnikov
will make one final transit of the Northwest Passage in 2011.
- Arctic Passage: Amundsen’s Route to Asia
No Green Beer for me today, although I will be attending a John McDermott concert to hear Danny Boy
and Tura Lura Lura
. [John promised some songs for us Scots too, so I'm not feeling disloyal to my heritage.]
There’s an Arctic voyage in 2011 that I would love to sail on. It is called Arctic Passage
: Amundsen’s Route to Asia. The journey has an Irish connection. That is the reason it is top of mind today. The special guest is Irish explorer - John Murray
Truth be told the expedition has an international flavor. In addition to Norwegian Roald Amundsen, if I were aboard I would learn of English explorer John Franklin too. Then there is the Canadian perspective of Arctic Sovereignty. Who owns the Northwest Passage – Canada, eh!
The icebreaker’s Russian captain, officers and crew will add a special dimension to the experience. Then there is Quark’s international Expedition Team. They haven’t been announced yet – but I am certain they will be top drawer. Only the most experienced sail aboard Kapitan Khlebnikov.
Happy St. Patrick’s Day.
Andrew Lambert in the Arctic
I finished The Gates of Hell: Sir John Franklin’s Tragic Quest for the North West Passage about 2 AM this morning. Like a forensic scientist building a case out of a mountain of minute clues, Andrew Lambert single-handedly reverses forever the traditional perception of polar exploration in the 19th and 20th centuries.
Unlike many experts, he does so lucidly, clearly and compellingly. No previous knowledge of Franklin, or Ross or Scott or Shackleton is required to understand his thesis: The members of the Franklin expedition died because a small group of scientists manipulated governments and public opinion.
This is the past, made present. As good teachers do, Lambert raised more questions in my mind than answers. Are we still being manipulated? Can the people we elect tell the difference between lobbying for self-interest and campaigning for the public good? As individuals, are we capable of discerning between the cult of celebrity and true heroism? Is truth an ideal never realized?
Lambert admonishes: “This book should be a warning against the cult of celebrity, for behind every bronze hero is a human being, an urgent, flawed life in pursuit of some fragment of immortality. We should listen, not judge, because our ancestors were human, and in seeing their humanity we might recall our own before the lights go out for ever.”
Damnation…after that statement it would be foolish of me to admit that I have become a huge fan of this book and the author! Buy it. Read it. Enter the Gates of Hell!