Thursday, January 11, 2007

Scott's Last Letter

The incredibly moving last letter by Captain Scott of the Antartic is just about to go on exhibition at The Scott Polar Research Institute in Cambridge. I remember one enterprising English teacher once giving us an assignment of writing a 'last letter' when we were hormonal teenagers. The result was an emotional massacre, so that won't be my writing prompt for today, particularly as reading this one has made me cry already once today. It's the understated passion held in the words, rather than any unexpected gush of feeling, that got me. Iced over, in every sense of the phrase, which somehow makes it seem even more poignant. He writes:
If anything happens to me I shall like you to know how much you have meant to me and that pleasant recollections are with me as I depart."
Pleasant recollections? Ah well. I suppose, you wouldn't marry a man like Scott if you wanted poetry by the fireside.

Reading it, I kept thinking of the wonderful short story, Bullet in the Brain, by Tobias Wolff, so was pleased to find this website which has him reading it. You need to search though, and appropriately enough he's at the end of a programme featuring people's last words. Anyway, in the story, the mc, Anders, remembers not his child, his wife, but an ungrammatical sentence which nevertheless brought him pleasure.

Writing Prompt 7-2007: Ice

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