A World of Ice

"Bergs and pack are thrown up in the sky and distorted into the most fantastic shapes. They climb trembling upwards, spreading out along lines at different levels, then contract and fall down, leaving nothing but an uncertain, wavering smudge which comes and goes. Presently the smudge swells and grows, taking shape until it presents the perfect inverted reflection of a berg on the horizon, the shadow over the substance. More smudges appear at different points on the horizon. These spread out into long lines till they meet, and are girdled by lines of shining snow-cliffs, laved at their bases by waters of illusion in which they appear to be faithfully reflected. So the shadows come and go silently, melting away finally as the sun declines to the west."

"The distant pack is thrown up into towering barrier-like cliffs, which are reflected in blue lakes and lanes of water at their base. Great white and golden cities of Oriental appearance at close intervals along these cliff-tops indicate distant bergs, some not previously known to us. Floating above these are wavering violet and creamy lines of still more remote bergs and pack. The lines rise and fall, tremble, dissipate, and reappear in an endless transformation scene. The southern pack and bergs, catching the sun's rays, are golden, but to the north the ice masses are purple. Here the bergs assume changing forms, first a castle, then a balloon just clear of the horizon, that changes swiftly into an immense mushroom, a mosque, or a cathedral."

"At the head of the ice-tongue that nearly closed the gap through which we might enter the open space was a wave-worn berg shaped like some curious antediluvian monster, an icy Cerberus guarding the way. It had head and eyes and rolled so heavily that it almost overturned. Its sides dipped deep in the sea, and as it rose again the water seemed to be streaming from its eyes, as though it were weeping at our escape from the clutch of the floes."

"Icebergs hang upside down in the sky; the land appears as layers of silvery or golden cloud. Cloud-banks look like land, icebergs masquerade as islands..."

All quotations are from, Sir Ernest Shackleton, "South: A Memoir of the Endurance Voyage." 1998. Carroll and Graf Publishers, Inc., New York, NY.