South: The story of Shackleton’s 1914-1917 Expedition – Review

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South (Illustrated): The Story of Shackleton’s Last Expedition by Ernest Shackleton

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Recently my preference in books has settled on memoir and biography. In that genre, South a memoir of Shackleton’s 1914-1917 Antarctic expedition (first published in 1919) was a real find in my stash of unread Kindle books.

Sir Ernest Shackleton (1874-1922) was an Antarctic explorer who had gone on several expeditions before the one described in this book. He was a third mate in Robert F. Scott’s 1901-1903 Discovery Expedition and led another, the Nimrod Expedition, in 1907-1909. On that trip, he and his mates broke the then-record for getting nearest to the South Pole and climbed Mount Erebus, Antarctica’s most active volcano. On returning to England, he was knighted by King George VII, becoming Sir Ernest Shackleton.

His third expedition, the 1914-1917 one which South details, was ambitious. It involved two ships with a selected crew of 26 men on each. The ship Endurance carried Shackleton and his crew. They hoped to reach Antarctica via the Weddell Sea (approaching Antarctica from the east), and trek overland. Meanwhile the ship Aurora, approaching Antarctica from the South via the Ross Sea, was tasked with carrying and depositing supplies along the route that Shackleton and his men hoped to take.

The expedition’s trouble began when the Endurance became trapped by ice before reaching land. Active ice floes moved, ground, and pressed against the ship. Shackleton and his men, fearing the worst, prepared for the possibility of abandoning their floating home. One fateful day the Endurance was indeed crushed and badly damaged. Shackleton and the crew’s many weeks drifting on the ice was only the beginning of their misadventures.

Shackleton’s telling is rich with journal entries of his own and others. The story of the Aurora and its crew, almost as discouraging, follows the tale of the Endurance crew.

In this day of air travel and sophisticated communication, the isolated, helpless state of Shackleton and his men is almost unimaginable. Their character, stoicism, and resourcefulness, along with Sir Ernest’s inspirational leadership are things I found remarkable in this story.

On this expedition, Shackleton and his men encountered the beauty and brutality of nature. They were often near death and I wondered, did they ever get to a point where they were beyond themselves? Did they ever acknowledge God? Pray?

Several times in the book Shackleton does mention Providence (yes, capitalized). And this bit from the last leg of his journey on South Georgia Island to get help is very interesting:

“When I look back at those days I have no doubt that Providence guided us, not only across those snowfields, but across the storm-white sea that separated Elephant Island from our landing-place on South Georgia. I know that during that long and racking march of thirty-six hours over the unnamed mountains and glaciers of South Georgia it seemed to me often that we were four, not three. I said nothing to my companions on the point, but afterwards Worsley said to me, “Boss, I had a curious feeling on the march that there was another person with us.” Crean confessed to the same idea. One feels “the dearth of human words, the roughness of mortal speech” in trying to describe things intangible, but a record of our journeys would be incomplete without a reference to a subject very near to our hearts.”

— South: The Story of Shackleton’s 1914-1917 Expedition by Sir Ernest Henry Shackleton (Kindle Location 3220)

South is a riveting tale that will keep you reading long into the night. Highly recommended.

Note:
My Kindle edition of the book had a list of illustrations (mostly photographs) that weren’t included in the book. Should you happen to read such an edition, the illustrations are available and linked here: https://www.gutenberg.org/files/5199/5199-h/5199-h.htm .

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A poem about my name!

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It’s a real treat to get anything by snail mail these days. When that envelope in the mail contains a poem, that’s a double treat. When that poem is from our own Tabatha Yeatts and it celebrates one’s own name, that’s a treat in multiples!

Tabatha sent me this poem about violets for round one of the summer poem swap. I learned history about my name that I never knew (and was inspired to be a better violet.)

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Violets (Image: Pixabay)

violet poem

Thank you, Tabatha, for organizing this summer poem swap, and for composing and sending this treasure!

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poetryfridayThis post is linked to Poetry Friday, hosted today by Carol Varsalona at Beyond Literacy Link.

Next week the round-up is hosted by Tabatha Yeatts. In honour of National Macaroni and Cheese Day on July 14th, next week’s roundup will have an optional Mac-N-Cheese theme (I’m drooling already)!

Dominion Dreams

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Tomorrow (July 1st) is a very special day in Canada. For not only is it our nation’s national holiday—Canada Day—(like the U.S’s 4th of July), but this year we celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday on this day.

I have been well aware of the specialness of this year for quite some time. Eighteen months ago our Fraser Valley Poets Society began working on an anthology focusing on Canada and timed to release just before July 1st. As associate editor some of the weight of that 208-page, 18-contributing poets book fell on my shoulders and so it was with great joy and relief that I saw the book launched just last Monday.

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O Canada: Celebrating 150 Years – back, spine, front cover.

At the launch, the editor and I explained some of the processes of putting it together, and several of us read selections from it. At the the break all contributors present assembled around a specially designed cake for a group photograph. Then we celebrated with cake and other goodies before an open mic time.

 

I wrote several Canada-themed poems for the book. The one I share, below, was based on an article I came across on the website of the gold rush town Barkerville (a very interesting place to visit if you love history).

The article, written from the British perspective, attempts to dispel the gloom of naysayers and convince Brits of the wisdom of colonizing this newly discovered land—which had monetary value too (and that should convince them, if nothing else did!).

Of course the fact that this wasn’t really their land to claim is a matter to explore another day. You could say that, to some degree, their confident assumptions still haunt us.

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This mural on the side of the Fort Langley Historic Site depicts the Hudson’s Bay Trading Post built on the Fraser River near the current site in 1827. Local First Nations Stò:lō people traded salmon, and furs for metals, ropes, and Hudson Bay Blankets, with guns being a relatively unimportant item.  (Photo © 2017 by V. Nesdoly, Information from Wikipedia Langley National Historic Site and Fort Langley.)

Dominion Dreams

Based on an article published in the British newspaper The Cosmopolitan – June 10, 1867

The amount of earth’s crust to be ruled by our queen
defies European analogies!
No matter that more than half this vast land
is in a perpetual perma-freeze.

That all that grows there is pale reindeer moss
roam the musk-ox and wild caribou.
There’s still much land left not in barrenness’ grip
to claim on this land mass so new.

The climate and earth are not what you’ve heard
why, the song-sparrow sings first of April.
While the melons and grapes and peaches so plump
are ripe long before the first snowfall.

Now speaking of snow, you likely don’t know
it covers the land—a warm mantle.
So the Red River farmer welcomes early flakes
to blanket fall’s spring wheat so gentle.

And Isle of Orleans just below Quebec
navigators have dubbed Isle of Bacchus.
While cows overwinter to Fort Edmonton
—very bearable, that’s what the fact is.

A Governor General under our queen
will rule this vast new Dominion.
We’ve tallied the value of stocks, goods, and land
it comes to over $1 billion!

© 2017 by Violet Nesdoly (All Rights Reserved)

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Happy Canada Day to all Canadians reading here. And to those in the U.S., Happy 4th of July (in a few days)!

poetryfridayThis post is linked to Poetry Friday, hosted today by Diane at Random Noodling.

 

“Glider crash lands on store”

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BC-CTV: Glider plane crashes in Langley (Photo from CTV news story)

“Glider Crash Lands on Store”

The kid set his glider
down on the roof.
No, I’m not kidding
it isn’t a spoof.
He’s a registered pilot
not prankster or goof.

It sounded like lumber
that fell off a truck.
The plane made a hole
and the pilot was stuck
near traffic lights, wires—
incredible luck!

So what brought this glider
out of the sky?
Was the pilot a thrill-seeking
daredevil guy?
We guess and conjecture
and postulate. Why?

I think it’s his mom’s fault
again and again:
she’d say “Passing by Meadows Mart?
Please drop in
for a bag of this
and of that a tin…”
So this once he actually
gave it a spin.

© 2017 by Violet Nesdoly (All rights reserved)

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Prompt – Inspiration
This poem was inspired by the November 27, 2013 prompt on the Poetic Asides blog:

For today’s prompt, write a local poem. By local, I’m thinking of something that happens or has happened in your neck of the woods, but you know, I’m never against poets bending and/or breaking my rules. So feel free to play with the concept of local however you wish.

The local news story I chose was about a glider landing on the roof of a little corner store, just down the block from us. The news story as it appeared on the BC CTV website is HERE.

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VintagePADThis April I’m celebrating National Poetry Month by posting some not-as-yet published poems from my files, along with what inspired them. If the prompt inspires you to write a poem of your own, you’re welcome to share it in comments. Whether you write or not, thanks so much for dropping by!

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Machine

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Image: Pixabay

Machine

Assembly begins the day Lucifer
is fired from the Father’s project.
Since then everything on earth has been sacrificed
to construct this apparatus.

Millennia of patient assembly
leads to today’s precise Pharisaic gears
meshing Roman justice with Judas cog
to draw Son into Evil’s engine.

He is denied even a simple wheel
to drag the cross, while Roman soldiers work
elbow fulcrums and hammer-wielding arms,
pulleys and ropes to hoist Him high.

See how His naive followers
keep glancing up as if even now
some heavenly windlass will appear
to free Him from the cross?

Until His final “It is finished!”
screamed into the dark
means the switch can be flicked,
for this device’s work is done.

But wait—what is the meaning
of this gaping earth, unearthly praises
of wraiths walking Jerusalem streets
the temple veil, ripping from top to bottom?

Hell’s alarm bells ring as the belt
flings from the still-spinning flywheel
and careens crazy, powerful
out of all control toward heaven.

© 2017 by Violet Nesdoly (All rights reserved)

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Prompt – Inspiration
This poem was based on Robert Brewer’s Poetic Asides prompt for April 3, 2015: “Write a machine poem.”

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VintagePADThis April I’m celebrating National Poetry Month by posting some not-as-yet published poems from my files, along with what inspired them. If the prompt inspires you to write a poem of your own, you’re welcome to share it in comments. Whether you write or not, thanks so much for dropping by!

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Lucifer at Calvary

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Image: Pixabay

Lucifer at Calvary

From the opening
whistle in the garden
it’s been an even match
though He boastfully predicted I’d be left
with a crushed head.

I’ve played my hand well
countered Abraham with Lot
Isaac with Ishmael
the Israelites with the Egyptians
David with Absalom.
My several setbacks?
Blame them on bad luck.

The last 33 years
have been a demonic joystick
of chess moves
the last three a dervish spinner
that landed Him today on Calvary.
The contest has been so even,
the outcome so unsure
His confusing words just now:
“It is finished.”
have me considering
my next move
long and hard.

Is this a loaded dice?
He tempting me to skip my turn?
Or He announcing a new level
or even giving up?

But see how dark this portal is
and how the game board shakes?
I think my luck has turned
my ascendancy begun.
I believe this game is over
and I have won!

© 2017 by Violet Nesdoly (All rights reserved)

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Prompt – Inspiration
Inspired by the Poetic Asides blog on November 1, 2014, where the prompt was: “Write a game-over poem.” (Note to myself, filed with this poem: “This poem needs an Easter Sunday answer.”)

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VintagePADThis April I’m celebrating National Poetry Month by posting some not-as-yet published poems from my files, along with what inspired them. If the prompt inspires you to write a poem of your own, you’re welcome to share it in comments. Whether you write or not, thanks so much for dropping by!

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Warbler’s Confession

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Warbler (Image from Pixabay.com)

Warbler’s Confession

(After witnessing a strange sight in the French Alps, March 24, 2015)

Today one of those giant fowl
passed with the grandest roar
I watched with admiration
how this mighty bird could soar.

But then it did the oddest thing
a most peculiar sight
changed attitude from up to down
descended like a kite.

I chirped and called and warbled
to warn it of disaster
but that great monstrous creature
only descended faster.

It plowed into a mountain
crashed into the cliffs
split into a million tiny
shards and broken bits.

I admit my jealousy
of giant’s perfect beak
its angle eyes, symmetric wings
its feathers smooth and sleek

it’s eagle speed, its beeline flight
its course above the cloud
its noble bold intelligence
its call, steady and loud.

But that’s all in the past now
I’ll never more complain
that I’m a simple warbler
and not a fancy plane.

© 2016 by Violet Nesdoly (All rights reserved)

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I wrote this poem on April 1, 2015, the first day of 2015’s National Poetry Month. As you can tell, it was inspired by a tragic air event that had happened about a week before, on March 24, 2015.

I planned already earlier this week  to publish it for Poetry Friday as my persona poem contribution to Michelle’s (and Laura Shovan’s) May challenge at Today’s Little Ditty. Then another eerily similar plane disappearance occurred just this morning, May 19th, Paris time.  Oh my! My poem is by no means meant to make light of these very serious events.

Warbler reminds us, too, that it’s good to be just who we are.

Poetry Friday LogoThis poem is linked to Poetry Friday, hosted today by the lovely Margaret Simon at Reflections on the Teche.