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 nightâ€”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.
â€”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 worldâ€”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 painâ€”in that Cloud-Cuckoo-Land
I reached my North and it had meaning. Here the actual pole of my existence, Where all that I have done is meaningless, Where I die or live by accident aloneâ€”
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 darknessâ€”that the darkness flung meâ€” 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.