The Rune of the "Vega's" Rudder
Zadel B Gustafson
Exploration, Navigation, Heroism
Two Nordic sea sprites, Olaf and Gudrun, encounter a ship in the freezing waters of the Arctic Ocean, and exclaim 'it is the Vega! [...] None but the Northern Shield / Dares brave this icy field'. An earlier footnote explains that 'Northern Shield' is 'Literal English of the great explorer Nordenskjöld's name' (n. 211). The two youthful sprites open one of the ship's port-holes and find 'Eric [i.e. Nordenskjöld], unaware / What 'twas that stirred his hair, / Sat, with his arms close pressed, / And chin upon his breast, / Much pondering whereaway / The Northeast passage lay'. The unseen Olaf then 'Unfolds the riddle clear' into Nordenskjöld's ear, and the explorer jumps to 'his toes; / Into the cabin darts, scans compasses and charts; / Then scans the atmosphere, / And shouts, "Ho! that way steer!"'. (212) With the help of the kindly sprites, 'The queenly Vega rides / Safe in Northeastern tides', and when 'their kind task is done' they collect 'Vega souvenirs' from the contents of the ship, including 'Some creatures in a jar' (213–14).
© Science in the Nineteenth-Century Periodical Project, Universities of Leeds and Sheffield, 2005 - 2020
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