by Stan Rogers
[The last verse, written later, is from a web interview]
Ah for just one time I would take the Northwest Passage
To find the hand of Franklin reaching for the Beaufort Sea;
Tracing one warm line through a land so wide and savage
And make a Northwest Passage to the sea.
Westward from the Davis Straight 'tis there 'twas said to lie
The sea route to the Orient for which so many died;
Seeking gold and glory, leaving weathered, broken bones
And a long forgotten lonely cairn of stones.
Three centuries thereafter, I take passage over land
In the footsteps of brave Kelso, where his "sea of flowers" began
Watching cities rise before me, then behind me sink again
This tardiest explorer, driving hard across the plain.
And through the night, behind the wheel, the mileage clicking West
I think upon MacKenzie, David Thomson and the rest
Who cracked the mountain ramparts and did show a path for me
To race the roaring Frasier to the sea.
How then am I so different from the first men through this way?
Like them I left a settled life, I threw it all away.
To seek a Northwest Passage at the call of many men
To find there but the road back home again
And if should be I come again to loved ones left at home,
Put the journals on the mantle, shake the frost out of my bones,
Making memories of the passage, only memories after all,
And hardships there the hardest to recall.