Franklin expedition, lancaster sound, hms terror, hms erebus

From Terror

The grind of sugar in a stained tin cup
Fingerless gloves on seized up hands,
Slowly stirring, desperately hoping
Wool on wood, tar on blood
The agony of not knowing
And the cold, cold night wind
That heralds death upon us.

Trapped by nature's Godless vice,
At first out spirits knew no fear
Hands kept turning, impatiently waiting,
Clay pipe smoke, timber oak
How one death can defeat us all
And the cruel polar winds
Say naught of life back home.

Survival of the fittest or most insane
Waiting for the next betrayal
Engines seizing, groaning, wheezing
Tinder for coal, save his soul!
And the eyes of the men
At the bomb vessel's heart,
Mirror the arctic sky.

What siren fate awaits us now,
Ghost ships of Lancaster Sound?
Natives baiting, sometimes trading,
Fish and line, flour and brine
Franklin's dead: vain Erebus
Our duty now is to survive
And so we make for the mainland.

With heavy hearts we leave you now
Pack ice will crush with clenched fist
Madness creeping, lack of sleeping
All alone in the great unknown
Magnetic data with ship's logs
To England with the will of God,
From Terror unto terror.

© Severn Dwyer. 2009

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