I had the good fortune to visit Antarctica some years ago, and I wrote one or two poems down there. I imagined, for example, a polar explorer dying of hypothermia, and then it occurred to me that 'hypothermia' sounded like the name of a Greek goddess, so I wrote this poem.

The Polar Explorer’s Love Song

The goddess Hypothermia
came and held me tight
and as we kissed we drifted
in the pale, pure light.

Antarctica was in her heart
and ice lay on her breast;
she was the warmest lover
and the best.

She made the glaciers advance,
she made the ice shelf shine,
she made the skua bird take flight
above her love and mine.

from Selected Poems 1955-97 (OUP, 1997), copyright Charles Tomlinson 1997, used by permission of the author and Carcanet Press Ltd.

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