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90 North Analysis

Author: Poetry of Randall Jarrell Type: Poetry Views: 200

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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-LandI 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 knowledgeI 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.


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