At home, in my flannel gown, like a bear to its floe,
I clambered to bed; up the globe's impossible sides
I sailed all night—till at last, with my black beard,
My furs and my dogs, I stood at the northern pole.
There in the childish night my companions lay frozen,
The stiff fur knocked at my starveling throat,
And I gave my great sigh: the flakes came huddling,
Were they really my end? In the darkness I turned to my rest.
—Here, the flag snaps in the glare and silence
Of the unbroken ice. I stand here,
The dogs bark, my beard is black, and I stare
At the North Pole . . .
And now what? Why, go back.
Turn as I please, my step is to the south.
The world—my world spins on this final point
Of cold and wretchedness: all lines, all winds
End in this whirlpool I at last discover.
And it is meaningless. In the child's bed
After the night's voyage, in that warm world
Where people work and suffer for the end
That crowns the pain—in that Cloud-Cuckoo-Land
I reached my North and it had meaning.
Here at the actual pole of my existence,
Where all that I have done is meaningless,
Where I die or live by accident alone—
Where, living or dying, I am still alone;
Here where North, the night, the berg of death
Crowd me out of the ignorant darkness,
I see at last that all the knowledge
I wrung from the darkness—that the darkness flung me—
Is worthless as ignorance: nothing comes from nothing,
The darkness from the darkness. Pain comes from the darkness
And we call it wisdom. It is pain.
Randall Jarrell's Other Poems
Read this poem in other languages
This poem has not been translated into any other language yet.
Comments about this poem (90 North by Randall Jarrell )
- Chaos and Nihilism, Robert James Busby
- If you're leaving take me with you, Robert James Busby
- The Laconicism Problem, Robert James Busby
- I'm not insane, Priscilla Rose
- Mystic Journey, Elizabeth Melillo
- Court of Life, Kolade Seun
- Entropic Being., John Lee Williams
- What The Tortoise Said, Tony Adah
- Forgiveness, Tiger Lily
- Stature, Nassy Fesharaki
Poem of the Day
- 04 Tongues Made Of Glass, Shaun Shane
- Still I Rise, Maya Angelou
- I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, Maya Angelou
- The Road Not Taken, Robert Frost
- Phenomenal Woman, Maya Angelou
- If, Rudyard Kipling
- Invictus, William Ernest Henley
- If You Forget Me, Pablo Neruda
- Dreams, Langston Hughes
- Alone, Maya Angelou
(4 April 1928 - 28 May 2014)
(March 26, 1874 – January 29, 1963)
(1 February 1902 – 22 May 1967)
(12 July 1904 – 23 September 1973)
Edgar Allan Poe
(19 January 1809 - 7 October 1849)
(10 December 1830 – 15 May 1886)
- Heather Burns
(31 May 1819 - 26 March 1892)