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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Pine boughs…

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02-24-18 Prompt Free

Photo © 2018 by V. Nesdoly

Pine boughs
mittened, each finger cuddled
in quilted fleece.

© 2018 by Violet Nesdoly (All rights reserved)

This morning we awoke to a winter wonderland!

The Capture Your 365 prompt today was “Prompt Free.” How convenient– a perfect invite to capture the snow on a crystalline morning.

 

 

Challenges & a few PINK poems

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I love challenges. I find myself eagerly jumping in to writing and art challenges of all kinds. Keeping up with them is another thing though!

This year my one-little-word is FOCUS, I’m trying to put it into practice by actually imposing some focus on my life. One area of focus is to eliminate some of the extras I get myself into that then end up becoming a burden when life gets busy. Snapping a photo a day and then using that photo as a poem prompt was one thing that I thought perhaps could go. So at the end of January I neglected to download the next month’s list of photo challenges I’ve been using.

I didn’t intentionally not download it—it just slipped my mind. As I started on my walk Thursday, February 1st, I reached automatically for the notebook with the photo list that I keep in my camera bag to see what the prompt was for the day, then realized, there was no point. I hadn’t copied it. In fact, I recalled, I was considering not following it any more at all.

Those thoughts brought on the most surprising feelings. I felt sad, bereft, abandoned, even disoriented. Now what would I look for on my walk? I would miss the mental stimulation of connecting an image with the prompt and thinking of what to say about it.

Then I remembered that I had missed a walk several days earlier and hadn’t snapped something for that prompt. I would do that. I immediately felt better.

The first thing I did when I got home was—you guessed it—downloaded the February photo challenge list. Even FOCUS will not rid me of this little lifestyle habit.

For a while I was sharing these photos and poems every day on Facebook, but it felt a bit much. So I have decided to, from time to time, post some of them here on the poetry blog. No promises, though, so there won’t be any to break!

I’m following the photo challenges from Capture Your 365 (#CY365). The February list is HERE.

Here, are a few photos & poems from last week’s prompts, which was a color week featuring PINK:

February 4 – PINK

02-04-18 Pink

Soft intersection
of red and white
Heather confection
Spring delight.

February 8 – SOFT PINK

02-08-18 Soft Pink

Morning sky
sheets tousled, covers half off
still flushed from sleep.

February 10 – SHADES OF …

02-10-18 Shades of Pink-4

The pinks of winter are a little blue
from shivering in north and east wind’s strew.

The pinks of winter are a little green
with dreams of leaves to fill the in-between.

02-10-18 Shades of Pink-5

The pinks of winter are approaching reds
As spring soft-whispers: “Wake, you sleepy-heads.”

All poems & photos © 2018 by Violet Nesdoly (All rights reserved)

Glory Tour (Spiritual Journey Thursday)

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Dec 31 Happy New Year

Last moon of 2017 (photo ©Dec. 31, 2017 by V. Nesdoly)

Welcome to Spiritual Journey (first) Thursday, February edition. Today we’re moodling on the moon.

To tell you the truth, I don’t have much of a relationship with the moon. It’s beautiful, for sure. I do love to see it bulge orange and bountiful over the horizon on a clear evening. I associate moonrises with autumn on the prairie, the thrum of combines and trucks in the background, my dad and uncle taking advantage of every bit of light to gather in the harvest of wheat and oats. But most of the time I feel sorry for the moon staring distant, cold, and lone into the night.

Of course the moon’s prominence, cool beauty, and mystery are impossible to miss. One of my favourite childhood poems was about the moon. You probably know it:

“Slowly silently now the moon
Walks the night in her silver shoon;
This way and that she peers and sees
Silver fruit upon silver trees;”

Read the rest of “Silver” by Walter de la Mare HERE.

It’s not surprising that the moon has been a worship object in many religions (and probably still is). Its waxing, waning, and connection to tides and seasons surely invest it with mysterious power that is only reinforced by the occasional eclipse. I love the poem “Lunar Eclipse (June 1928)” by D. S. Martin (a poem from his chapbook So the Moon Would Not Be Swallowed—a collection of poems inspired by correspondence from his grandparents who were missionaries in China). In it, he describes the reaction of the Chinese people to the lunar eclipse in June of 1928:

LUNAR ECLIPSE (JUNE 1928)
Yencheng, Honan, China

On Sunday
evening as darkness crept in
the people rushed out
with gongs
& pots
& anything to make noise
to scare
the heavenly dog
that slowly
very
slowly
ever so slowly
had
placed its jaws about the moon

Read the rest of D.S. Martin’s poem HERE…

My attitude toward the moon has been influenced by my Christian faith and the Bible, which depicts it as one of God’s creations. I love how Genesis describes its beginnings:

“Then God made two great lights: the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night” – Genesis 1:16 (emphasis added).

My poem today was inspired by Psalm 19 (where the moon isn’t mentioned specifically, but we know it is a part of the created heavens).

“The heavens declare the glory of God
And the firmament shows His handiwork.” – Psalm 19:1

Glory Tour

“God’s glory is on tour in the skies …
unspoken truth is spoken everywhere” – Psalm 19:1,4 The Message

The stars are reciting
galaxies rhyming
the language of eons
in speed-of-light timing.

The Sun’s dialect
of dangerous rays
is inflected with angles
defining our days.

The Moon serenades
tide, lover and season
chanting its charms
with quarterly reason.

The Heavens are dancing
Truth, Beauty and Wisdom.
The tickets are free,
Earth attendees are welcome!

© 2017 by Violet Nesdoly (All Rights Reserved)

(Glory Tour was first published on Laurel Archer’s 2017 Advent blog.)

spiritualjourneyfirst-thursday-copyBe sure to visit our Spiritual Journey First Thursday hostess, Donna at Mainely Write for links to more moon meditations.

Five Cinquains

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I wasn’t going to join in on Poetry Friday today, then went to Linda’s roundup, found her post on Adelaide Crapsey and the cinquain form, and decided to put something up after all.

The cinquain is one of the short forms I’ve written in when composing poems in response to the daily photography prompts I’ve been following. Here are five (in honor of the cinquain’s five lines) that I’ve written in the past few months. They’ll take you back to spring and onward. (Title is the photo prompt word or phrase.)

Fresh

Fresh

Policeman’s helmet (Photo © 2017 by V. Nesdoly)

just washed
smell of laundry
policeman’s helmet grows
riotously beside the stream
fresh pink

Group

Group

McBurney Lane art piece (Photo © 2017 by V. Nesdoly)

Teamwork
Community
Get involved, Lend a hand
Support, Help out, Volunteer, Care
Give back.

A helping hand

HelpingHand

My viewing deck on eclipse morning (Photo © 2017 by V.Nesdoly)

Eclipse—
protect my eyes:
box, tin foil, white paper
pinhole camera in my hand.
Viewed safe.

Fencing

Fencing

Bug on a fence (Photo © 2017 by V. Nesdoly)

After
stone-bottom burrow
this sleek white thoroughfare
is a bug’s sci-fi fantasy
new world!

Silver

Silver

Street vendor sugar bowl (Photo © 2017 by V. Nesdoly)

Silver
imperfections
can’t hide your sweet intent
like grey hair, wrinkled face of our
Granny

All the above © 2017 by Violet Nesdoly (All rights reserved)
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poetryfridayThis post is linked to Poetry Friday, hosted today by Linda at Teacher Dance.

 

Farewell to Summer (Goodnight Moon)

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I did it! I wrote a short poem for every day of the summer. A notebook in my Evernote app called “2017 Summer Shorts Poems” now holds 93 of this summer’s daily photos and their accompanying verses.

That I even completed this amazes me. But that I enjoyed it to the last day amazes even more. I think the secret of finishing was that my expectations were low. The poems are all short. I didn’t write every day but did take daily photos and then caught up with the poem-writing when I had the time and the inspiration. And I never got too far behind.

Today I share with you yesterday’s photo and poem of farewell to summer. The photo prompt was “Goodnight Moon.”

IMG_0580

Capture Your 365 photo for September 21, 2017: “Goodnight Moon” (© 2017 by V. Nesdoly)

Farewell to Summer

Goodnight moon of blushing gold.
Farewell drowsy heat of noon.
Mornings now are crisp and cold
falling leaves and frost come soon.
Autumn’s winds and rains are bold
I would love a summer rune.
Through these lines your charms I’ll hold
till you come again next June.

 

© 2017 by Violet Nesdoly (All rights reserved)

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poetryfridayThis post is linked to the Poetry Friday, hosted today by Amy Ludwig VanDerwater at The Poem Farm where on Tuesday she celebrated the actual birth day of her new book Read! Read! Read!

 

Poetry Swap Pocket

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Summer+Poetry+Swap-1My last Summer 2017 Poetry Swap parcel arrived this week and I was quite bowled over by it. Linda Baie sure knows how to pack a lot of goodies into a little bubble mailer!

She sent me—a pocket! How perfect for a habitual walker who is always grabbing for a tissue or a notebook or a camera out of her pocket!

This pocket was packed with: a personal note, a notebook, a Pilot pen (even the brand name seems perfect), mints, a (real cloth embroidered) hankie, a couple of pine cones along with a legend about them (perfect to entertain my grands!), a piece of petrified wood, a poem bookmark, and the most darling little black feather you ever saw!

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Pocket treasures from Linda B. – Summer 2017 Poetry Swap (Photo by V. Nesdoly)

And this poem… (Linda, you are amazing! – Thank you!!)

Pocket-LindaB

Linda, you’ve tied it up perfectly with those last five lines: “doing art … gathering bouquets of images … a crystal vase of ideas.” I’m totally inspired!

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poetryfridayThis post is linked to Poetry Friday, hosted today by poet and photographer Jone at Check It Out.

There, Jone challenges us to an Acrostic. Well, I just happen to have one in my Summer Shorts (poem-a-day photo-challenge project). It’s all about the PRODUCE (the August 3rd #CY365 prompt)

Produce

Photo for “Produce – #CY365 for August 3, 2017 (© 2017 by V. Nesdoly)

PRODUCE

Parsnip, turnip, bok choy
Rutabaga, beet
Orange carrots in a row
Daikon long and white
Under produce mirror-bin
Cabbage doubles round and green–those
Egos swell as veggies preen

© 2017 by Violet Nesdoly (All rights reserved)