SOME ANTARCTIC QUOTES
Last updated: 23 January 2004.
"Polar exploration is at once the cleanest and most isolated way of having a bad time which has been devised." [Apsley Cherry-Garrard. Opening sentence of the Introduction to The Worst Journey in the World.]
"To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield." [Carved on the cross on Observation Hill to memorialize Scott's polar party. From Alfred Lord Tennyson's Ulysses. Also found frequently elsewhere, including on Lincoln Ellsworth's headstone in Hamilton, Ohio. The quote on a memorial plaque for Petty Officer Edgar Evans in the Church of St Mary the Virgin, Rhosili, Gower, Wales, reads--mistakenly--'To seek, to strive, to find, and not to yield.'] The entire last stanza reads
Some work of noble note, may yet be done,
Not unbecoming men that strove with Gods.
The lights begin to twinkle from the rocks:
The long day wanes: the slow moon climbs: the deep
Moans round with many voices. Come, my friends,
'Tis not too late to seek a newer world.
Push off, and sitting well in order smite
The sounding furrows; for my purpose holds
To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths
Of all the western stars, until I die.
It may be that the gulfs will wash us down:
It may be we shall touch the Happy Isles,
And see the great Achilles, whom we knew.
Though much is taken, much abides; and though
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven; that which we are, we are;
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.
"Take it all in all, I do not believe anybody on earth has a worse time than an Emperor penguin." [Apsley Cherry-Garrard. From the Introduction to The Worst Journey in the World.]
"I thought, dear, that you would rather have a live ass than a dead lion." [Sir Ernest Shackleton to his wife Emily, after deciding to turn back 97 miles from the Pole.]
"Men wanted for hazardous journey. Low wages, bitter cold, long hours of complete darkness. Safe return doubtful. Honour and recognition in event of success." [From an advertisement, almost certainly apocryphal, preceding Shackleton's Nimrod expedition. See '$100 Contest' elsewhere on this site.]
"He [Scott] cried more easily than any man I have ever known. What pulled Scott through was character, sheer good grain which ran over and under and through his weaker self and clamped it all together." [Apsley Cherry-Garrard. From the Introduction to The Worst Journey in the World.]
"What is the use of A running down Scott because he served with Shackleton, or B going for Amundsen because he served with Scott? They have all done good work; within their limits, the best work to date. There are jobs for which, if I had to do them, I would like to serve under Scott, Amundsen, Shackleton and Wilson--each to his part. For a joint scientific and geographical piece of organization, give me Scott; for a Winter Journey, Wilson; for a dash to the Pole and nothing else, Amundsen: and if I am in the devil of a hole and want to get out of it, give me Shackleton every time. They will all go down in polar history as leaders, these men." [Apsley Cherry-Garrard. Vol I, Page viii, Preface, Worst Journey in the World, first edition.]
"Scott for scientific method, Amundsen for speed and efficiency but when disaster strikes and all hope is gone, get down on your knees and pray for Shackleton." [Attributed to Raymond Priestly but appears in essence elsewhere including in Cherry-Garrard's Worst Journey in the World (see previous)].
"... but for my own sake I do not regret this journey, which has shown that Englishmen can endure hardships, help one another, and meet death with as great a fortitude as ever in the past. We took risks, we knew we took them; things have come out against us, and therefore we have no cause for complaint, but bow to the will of providence, determined still to do our best to the last ... Had we lived, I should have had a tale to tell of the hardihood, endurance, and courage of my companions which would have stirred the heart of every Englishman. These rough notes and our dead bodies must tell the tale, but surely, surely, a great rich country like ours will see that those who are dependent on us are properly provided for." [Robert F. Scott, Last Message. Scott's Last Expedition vol 1, pp 605-07.]
"I am just going outside and may be some time." [L.E.G. Oates.]
"Atkinson led his party back along the route, so far as they could judge it, that had been followed by the three companions, to look for the body of Oates, but snow had done the work of burial. They found his sleeping bag, but no more. Near the spot where they reckoned he had walked to his death, about fifteen miles from the last camp, they erected a cross with the inscription which became so famous:
"Hereabouts died a very gallant gentleman, Captain L. E. G. Oates of the Inniskilling Dragoons. In March 1912, returning from the Pole, he walked willingly to his death in a blizzard to try to save his comrades, beset by hardship."
[Huxley, E. Scott of the Antarctic, p. 258.]
"S. privately forced upon me his one breakfast biscuit, and would have given me another tonight had I allowed him. I do not suppose that anyone else in the world can thoroughly realise how much generosity and sympathy was shown by this; I DO, and BY GOD I shall never forget. Thousands of pounds would not have bought that one biscuit." [Frank Wild referring to Shackleton. From his diary of the southern journey during the Nimrod expedition. 31 January 1909.]