Scott, Amunsden and the Titanic1912-13
I just finsihed writing the following prose-poem. I am a retired history teacher and a Baha'i. I write a great deal of material that tries to tie together events in society and events in my own value and belief system. The following piece seemed appropriate for this site. I hope it finds a home here.
A GREAT AND MIGHTY WIND
On November 12, 1912 ?Abdu?l-Bah? arrived in New York, the last city of His eight months tour of America. That same day an Antarctic search party discovered the tent of Captain Robert Scott and his two companions. The body of Captain Scott was wedged between those of his fellow explorers, the flaps of his sleeping bag thrown back, his coat open. His companions, Lieut. Henry Bowers and Dr. Edward Wilson, lay covered in their sleeping bags as if dozing. They had been dead for eight months. They were the last members of a five-man team returning to their home base from the Pole.
The team had set out on its final push to the Pole the previous January. They knew they were in a race to be the first to reach their destination. Their competition was a Norwegian expedition lead by Roald Amundsen. The two expeditions employed entirely different strategies. Amundsen relied on dogs to haul his men and supplies over the frozen Antarctic wasteland. Scott's British team distrusted the use of dogs preferring horses; once these died from the extreme conditions the sleds were man-hauled to the Pole and back. In fact, Scott deprecated the Norwegian's reliance on dogs. Their use was somehow a less manly approach to the adventure and certainly not representative of the English tradition of "toughing it out" under extreme circumstances. Man could manage Nature. A similar spirit guided the building of the "unsinkable" Titanic and then supplied the ship with far too few lifeboats to hold its passengers if disaster did strike. Just as the passengers of the Titanic paid a price for this arrogance on April 14th 1912, so too did Captain Scott and his four companions. On April 14th, 'Abdu'l-Baha gave His first talk in America in New York after arriving three days before.-Ron Price with thanks to "Eye Witness To History.com" and H.M. Balyuzi, 'Abdu?l-Bah?, George Ronald, Oxford, 1971, pp.329-393.
Yes, there's a message there.
They believed, then, as they
believe now, in some illusory
hope, some frail foundation of
confidence in the future, through
some fortuitous conjunction of
circumstances, that it's possible
to bend the conditions of human life
into conformity with prevailing human
desires: alas the catalogue of horror,
the magnitude of ruin, gripped as we
are and they were in the clutches of
a devastating power, in the end,
bewildered, agonized and helpless
we watch, as they watched, this
great, mysterious and mighty wind
invading the remotest and fairest
regions of the Earth, yes, an
unprecedented tempest, a rampant
force--and yet--an auspicious jucture
in the history of the world: the arrival
of the first humans at the south pole.
13 January 2007
That's all folks!