Edward Shackleton: Polar explorer, frustrated poet

I am only part way through Roland Huntford’s Shackleton but came across this intriguing tidbit:

“Browning, a standard favorite of the age, was the poet whom Shackleton could, and did, quote to anyone he could persuade to stand and listen. This was a legacy from home. Like many middle-class Victorian households, the Shackletons cultivated poetry, partly as entertainment, and partly as moral uplift. Shackleton himself, however, was not only reciting poetry; as his ship rose and swooped over the waves, he was secretly trying to write it as well, but he made the terrible discovery that the stanzas bore little resemblance to the tremendous emotions welling up within. It was the first, perhaps the greatest bafflement of his life.”

Is this why poets don’t live as long as novelists? When it goes badly they tackle the South Pole.


Comments are closed.