by William Ellery Leonard
It was not for the Arctic gold and a claim at the end of the great white trail;
Nor yet for the Arctic lore — for a map of the floe and a graph of the gale:
But the quest came out of a primitive urge in the blood of our common birth —
The lure of the last lone verge and the desert end of the rolling earth.
For this he abandoned the green of the world — the lakes and the hills and the leas,
And rivers of midsummer nations, and banks with the corn and the vine and the trees,
And the genial zones of the planet's rains, and the belt of the planet's flowers;
For this he abandoned all cities — their households, their singing and sunsets and towers.
Onward, north of the Northern Lights, hungry and cold and alone,
Eternity under his frozen feet and the snows of the ages unknown,
With never the boom of the purple seas, nor ever a mountain of fire,
North of the Plain of the thousand slain — who were dead of the same desire! —
Till the East and West were lost in the South, and the North was no more, and he stood
Face to face with the ancient dream through his hope and his hardihood;
And the alien skies where the polar sun went round the horizon's rim
And the nameless ice below belonged at last to the race through him.
Last updated May 20, 2019