(To Peary and his men, before the last expedition)
Why sing the legends of the Holy Grail, The dead crusaders of the Sepulchre, While these men live? Are the great bards all dumb? Here is a vision to shake the blood of Song, And make Fame's watchman tremble at his post.
What shall prevail against the spirit of man, When cold, the lean and snarling wolf of hunger, The threatening spear of ice-mailed Solitude, Silence, and space, and ghostly-footed Fear Prevail not? Dante, in his frozen hell Shivering, endured no bleakness like the void These men have warmed with their own flaming will, And peopled with their dreams. The wind from fierce Arcturus in their faces, at their backs The whip of the world's doubt, and in their souls Courage to die — if death shall be the price Of that cold cup that will assuage their thirst; They climb, and fall, and stagger toward the goal. They lay themselves the road whereby they travel, And sue God for a franchise. Does He watch Behind the lattice of the boreal lights? In that grail-chapel of their stern-vowed quest, Ninety of God's long paces toward the North, Will they behold the splendor of His face? To conquer the world must man renounce the world? These have renounced it. Had ye only faith Ye might move mountains, said the Nazarene. Why, these have faith to move the zones of man Out to the point where All and Nothing meet. They catch the bit of Death between their teeth, In one wild dash to trample the unknown And leap the gates of knowledge. They have dared Even to defy the sentinel that guards The doors of the forbidden — dared to hurl Their breathing bodies after the Ideal, That like the heavenly kingdom must be taken Only by violence. The star that leads The leader of this quest has held the world True to its orbit for a million years.
And shall he fail? They never fail who light Their lamp of faith at the unwavering flame Burnt for the altar service of the Race Since the beginning. He shall find the strange — The white immaculate Virgin of the North, Whose steady gaze no mortal ever dared, Whose icy hand no human ever grasped. In the dread silence and the solitude She waits and listens through the centuries For one indomitable, destined soul, Born to endure the glory of her eyes, And lift his warm lips to the frozen Grail.