Amundsen at the Pole, 14th December 1911
This is not what I had dreamt of.
My childhood’s goal is half a world
Away, at the top of the globe, north.
But it was stolen from me, and
I needed to succeed.
We need to pace it out, need to
Encircle this rounded patch of earth,
To make sure of our claim. Our
Instruments are too fallible to be
Certain exactly of where we are.
We shall be here for one night only,
For the time it takes us to fix position,
To pitch our tent and rest, to make a
Pole home, to write our letters, to
Leave for the next what we don’t need.
And then away, away from this
Awful place, back across the trodden
Ground before the English arrive,
Before I have to see into their broken
Faces to understand what I have stolen.
From K175 – Antarctic Fragments
Dead Men, my debut novel about Scott and Amundsen is published by Duckworth on 19th March 2012. I will be giving a lecture on the book at the Natural History Museum on 15th March 2012 at 14:30, followed by a book signing.