How far, Since Then

Ultima Thule

BY HENRY WADSWORTH LONGFELLOW

With favoring winds, o'er sunlit seas, 

We sailed for the Hesperides, 

The land where golden apples grow; 

But that, ah! that was long ago. 

 

How far, since then, the ocean streams 

Have swept us from that land of dreams, 

That land of fiction and of truth, 

The lost Atlantis of our youth! 

 

Whither, ah, whither? Are not these 

The tempest-haunted Orcades, 

Where sea-gulls scream, and breakers roar, 

And wreck and sea-weed line the shore? 

 

Ultima Thule! Utmost Isle! 

Here in thy harbors for a while 

We lower our sails; a while we rest 

From the unending, endless quest. 

Comments 8

 
Rosy Cole on Monday, 31 December 2018 13:39

Nice! Thank you! (As a writer, and one striving with the economics of poetry, I mind have a slight issue with 'unending, endless'. But that's just me!) :-)

Nice! Thank you! (As a writer, and one striving with the economics of poetry, I mind have a slight issue with 'unending, endless'. But that's just me!) :-)
Stephen Evans on Monday, 31 December 2018 18:55

It's not just you - I had the same thought! It seems like the kind of thing you write when the publisher is waiting for the manuscript and it has to get there today.

I looked up this poem when I read about the New Horizon flyby of the Ultima Thule object:

https://www.space.com/42864-new-horizons-ultima-thule-flyby-what-to-expect.html

Maybe 4 billion miles is what unending, endless means.,

It's not just you - I had the same thought! It seems like the kind of thing you write when the publisher is waiting for the manuscript and it has to get there today. I looked up this poem when I read about the New Horizon flyby of the Ultima Thule object: https://www.space.com/42864-new-horizons-ultima-thule-flyby-what-to-expect.html Maybe 4 billion miles is what unending, endless means.,
Rosy Cole on Tuesday, 01 January 2019 12:10

Yes, I had heard about the space thing :-) but I don't suppose Longfellow had, at least not in the way we have. As I view it, there's a lot more mileage for the human race in his vision.

Yes, I had heard about the space thing :-) but I don't suppose Longfellow had, at least not in the way we have. As I view it, there's a lot more mileage for the human race in his vision.
Stephen Evans on Tuesday, 01 January 2019 17:05

I have to admit I haven't read much of Longfellow - oh good - a project for the new year!

Happy New Year to all!

I have to admit I haven't read much of Longfellow - oh good - a project for the new year! Happy New Year to all!
Rosy Cole on Tuesday, 01 January 2019 23:56

I think it's really about Avalon and Lyonesse, Arcady and the Garden of Eden, the place left behind and the place of longed for return, always out of reach. It's not just nostalgia, it reflects the whole human journey.

What that says about the space programme in these surreal times...

I think it's really about Avalon and Lyonesse, Arcady and the Garden of Eden, the place left behind and the place of longed for return, always out of reach. It's not just nostalgia, it reflects the whole human journey. What that says about the space programme in these surreal times...
Stephen Evans on Wednesday, 02 January 2019 01:15

It does sound Avalon-like, a place of rest. I am rethinking my criticism of 'unending, endless' though. to end or not is a choice. Endless is a category. He chooses not to end the quest at Ultima Thule, the farthest land, knowing the journey beyond is endless. Yes, I think there is a distinction there, though whether that is what he had in mind I can't say.

It does sound Avalon-like, a place of rest. I am rethinking my criticism of 'unending, endless' though. to end or not is a choice. Endless is a category. He chooses not to end the quest at Ultima Thule, the farthest land, knowing the journey beyond is endless. Yes, I think there is a distinction there, though whether that is what he had in mind I can't say.
Rosy Cole on Wednesday, 02 January 2019 12:12

Maybe you should have called your latest book Ultima Thule. :-) He was, after all, referring to this https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Thule_carta_marina_Olaus_Magnus.jpg

Maybe you should have called your latest book [i]Ultima Thule[/i]. :-) He was, after all, referring to this https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Thule_carta_marina_Olaus_Magnus.jpg
Stephen Evans on Thursday, 03 January 2019 19:28

Great illustration! Here be Balena.

Great illustration! Here be Balena.
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