To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield

Posted: 6 June 2011 in life
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The memorial cross on Observation Hill, Antarctica, commemorating explorer Captain Robert Falcon Scott and his party.The final lines of Alfred, Lord Tennyson’s Ulysses represent my favourite piece of poetry, and a source of vast inspiration – especially in darker times. Since being written in 1883 and published in 1842, these lines have carved a place in history as a commemeration and inspiration to the spirit of adventure.

“We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are;
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.”

In general my attitude to life is “I’m serious about what I do but not necessarily the way that I do it”. In some instances, however, life is taken very seriously.

This verse resonates with my determination in some situations not to yield in the face of often overwhelming odds. Occasionally the magnitude of what has to be faced, shouldered, and conquered is staggering but these few lines encourage the facing down of fear and the continuation of the quest.

The final three lines are inscribed on a cross at Observation Hill, Antarctica, to commemorate explorer Robert Falcon Scott and his party, who died on their return trek from the South Pole in 1912.

For the 2012 London Olympics, the final line was chosen to be carved into the long wall at the entrance to the athletes’ village. One judge commented, “The aim was to find a line of poetry that somehow encapsulated the endeavour, the glory and the dance with failure that Olympic sport entails.”

So, whatever the odds, do not yield and face the enormity of the quest as best one can.


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