Winter in the Ice

Drawing of a hunting expedition

Drawing of a hunting expedition from the inaugural "Framsjaa" issue

This poem was part of the inaugural “Framsjaa” issue, a weekly newsletter started by the polar explorer Fridtjof Nansen and his crew aboard their ship, the “Fram”, in the winter of 1894. At the time of publication, the “Fram” was locked in the ice for the polar night, but the ship was otherwise comfortable with ample food, heating, and light such that the cabin crew was free to write, drink, and play cards.


Far in the ice there lies a ship, boys,
Mast and sail, ice to the very tip, boys;
But, perfectly clear,
If you listen you can hear,
There is life and fun on board that ship, boys.
What can it be?
Come along and see—
It is Nansen and his men that laugh, boys.

Nothing to be heard at night but glasses’ clink, boys,
Fall of greasy cards and counters’ chink, boys;
If he won’t “declare,”
Nordahl he will swear
Bentzen is stupid as an owl, boys.
Bentzen cool, boys,
Is not a fool, boys;
“You’re another!” quickly he replies, boys.

Among those sitting at the table, boys,
Is “Heika,” with his body big and stable, boys;
He and Lars, so keen,
It would almost seem
They would stake their lives if they were able, boys.
Amundsen, again,
Looks at these two men,
Shakes his head and sadly goes to bed, boys.

Sverdrup, Blessing, Hansen, and our Mohn, boys,
Say of “marriage”: “this game is our own,” boys;
Soon for them, alas!
The happy hour is past;
And Hansen he says, “Come away, old Mohn!” boys.
“It is getting late,
And the stars won’t wait,
You and I must up and out alone,” boys.

The doctor here on board has nought to do, boys;
Not a man to test his skill among the crew, boys;
Well may he look blue,
There’s nought for him to do,
When every man is strong and hearty, too, boys.
“Now on the Fram” boys,
He says “I am,” boys,
“Chief editor of newspaper for you!” boys.