The Gipsy Trail

“The white moth to the closing bine,
The bee to the opened clover,
And the gipsy blood to the gipsy blood
Ever the wide world over.

Ever the wide world over, lass,
Ever the trail held true,
Over the world and under the world,
And back at the last to you.

Out of the dark of the gorgio camp,
Out of the grime and the grey
(Morning waits at the end of the world),
Gipsy, come away!

The wild boar to the sun-dried swamp,
The red crane to her reed,
And the Romany lass to the Romany lad,
By the tie of a roving breed.

The pied snake to the rifted rock,
The buck to the stony plain,
And the Romany lass to the Romany lad,
And both to the road again.

Both to the road again, again!
Out on a clean sea-track –
Follow the cross of the gipsy trail
Over the world and back!

Follow the Romany patteran
North where the blue bergs sail,
And the bows are grey with the frozen spray,
And the masts are shod with mail.

Follow the Romany patteran
Sheer to the Austral Light,
Where the besom of God is the wild South wind,
Sweeping the sea-floors white.

Follow the Romany patteran
West to the sinking sun,
Till the junk-sails lift through the houseless drift.
And the east and west are one.

Follow the Romany patteran
East where the silence broods
By a purple wave on an opal beach
In the hush of the Mahim woods.

“The wild hawk to the wind-swept sky,
The deer to the wholesome wold,
And the heart of a man to the heart of a maid,
As it was in the days of old.”

The heart of a man to the heart of a maid —
Light of my tents, be fleet.
Morning waits at the end of the world,
And the world is all at our feet!”

Rudyard Kipling, 1904

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Headed South

group_sail
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A General Map

Showing an overview of the Southern Continent, and positions of the Ross and Weddell Seas.

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Sir Daniel Gooch

gooch500

“Sir Daniel was the grandson of the other more illustrious Sir Daniel Gooch (1816-1889), the great railway engineer of some considerable genius who designed over 60 different classes of steam locomotives, and was responsible for laying the first ever Trans-Atlantic telegraph cable between Great Britain and America.

Gooch left the Expedition at South Georgia on Thursday 3rd December 1914. His home, Hylands House, had been requisitioned as a temporary war hospital and returned home to England to help with the supervision of its conversion. 

He funded the medical equipment himself, and the 190 bed hospital between 14th August 1914 and early 1919, treated over 1500 war wounded patients. 

Shackleton wrote ‘We all regretted losing his cheery presence when we headed for the South.’

Gooch was drafted in as a last minute substitute. Gooch’s qualifications for the job was that he was an expert breeder of Greyhounds and for years had followed the hunt. He sailed with the dogs on the La Negra from Liverpool on Monday 26th October 1914 bound for Buenos Aires, where he signed on board the Endurance as an able seaman.”

— from http://www.enduranceobituaries.co.uk/gooch.htm

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Rasmussen highly excited

“We steamed from Cumberland Bay on 5 December 1914, after bidding adieu to our good friends, and Rasmussen highly excited by drowning his sorrows, accompanied us some distance in his motor launch. Aheading, circling, and sterning it, in a most ludicrous and amusing fashion. MacDougall could be seen, the last figure, waving us bon voyage till we rounded Mount Dusie and headed for the open sea and the south.”

— Frank Hurley

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What thoughts are ours…

sunrise

“What thoughts are ours, setting out thus at such a time, with no chance of news from dear ones at home who are passing through the greatest national crisis of modern times. What may we expect to learn in our return? The map of Europe may be greatly altered, but God grant that England may stand where she is this day and that all those dear to us may be spared from any privations or suffering.”

— Thomas Orde-Lees

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The Ship of Fools

(1577)

We are those fools who could not rest
In the dull earth we left behind,
But burned with passion for the West
And drank a frenzy from its wind;
The world where small men live at ease
Fades from our unregretful eyes,
And blind across uncharted seas
We stagger on our enterprise.

Starboard and port, the lean waves leap
Like white-fanged wolves about our prow,
Where Mary with her Christ asleep
Is carved to hear the wanderer’s vow.
The thirsty decks have drunk our blood,
Our hands are tettered from the oar;
Wan ghosts upon a spectral flood
We drive towards a phantom shore.

And we have sailed in haunted seas
Dreadful with voices, where the mast
Gleamed blue with deathlights, and the breeze
Bore madness, and have stared aghast
To see beyond our splintered spars
That rattled in the shrill typhoon,
A heaven strange with tawny stars
And monstrous with an alien moon.

Lean, naked, bruised, like famished slaves,
We shiver at the sweeps; each one
A jest for all the scornful waves,
And food for laughter to the sun.
But never voice, not deathlight flare
Nor moon shall stay us with their spell,
Whose eyes are calm as God, and stare
Confusion in the face of Hell.

The worn ship reels, but still unfurled
Our tattered ensign flouts the skies;
And doomed to watch a prudent world
Of little men grown mean and wise,
The old sea laughs for joy to find
One purple folly left to her,
When glimmers down the riotous wind
The flag of the adventurer!

O watchman leaning from the mast,
What of the night? The shadows flee;
The stars grow pale, the storm is past;
The blood-red sunrise stains the sea.
At length, at length, O steadfast wills,
Luck takes the tiller and foul tides turn;
Superb amid majestic hills
The domes of Eldorado burn!

The Ship of Fools by St. John Lucas

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