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    Re: Prose and Poetry and Navigation
    From: Don Seltzer
    Date: 2016 Apr 27, 10:24 -0400

    On Wed, Apr 27, 2016 at 1:58 AM, Doug MacPherson <NoReply_MacPherson@fer3.com> wrote:
    > Over the years I have enjoyed NavList, many contributors have written
    > elequently of their passion for the stars.  Does anyone else have a favorite
    > prose passage or poem that describes thier interest in Celestial Navigation?

    About a month ago I posted a few lines from William Falconer's epic poem Shipwreck (more than 2500 lines), describing the mid-18th century morning ritual of observing the rising sun and determining magnetic variation.

    I was surprised to discover a slightly different version of these same lines published around 1800, three decades after Falconer was lost at sea.The language is a little clearer about what the navigator is doing, but I think a bit of the poetical is lost.  i do not know which version was the original.

    Here are the lines about navigation:

    Now morn her lamp pale glimmering sight
    Scatter'd before her van reluctant night
    She comes not in refulgent pomp array'd
    But sternly frowning wrapt in sullen shade
    The dim horizon lowering vapours shroud
    And blot the sun yet struggling in the cloud
    Thro the wide atmosphere condens'd with haze
    His glaring orb emits a sanguine blaze
    The pilots now their rules of art apply
    The mystic needle's devious aim to try
    The compass plac'd to catch the rising ray
    The quadrant's shadows studious they survey
    Along the arch the gradual index slides
    While Phœbus down the vertic circle glides
    Now seen on ocean's utmost verge to swim
    He sweeps it vibrant with his nether limb
    Their sage experience thus explores the height
    And polar distance of the source of light
    Then thro the chiliads triple maze they trace
    The analogy that proves the magnet's place
    The wayward steel to truth thus reconcil'd
    No more the attentive pilot's eye beguil'd.

    As the title implies, it does not end well:

    Thus the torn vessel felt the enormous stroke
    The boats beneath the thundering deluge broke
    Forth started from their planks the bursting rings
    The extended cordage all asunder springs
    The pilot's fair machinery strews the deck
    And cards and needles swim in floating wreck...

    Don Seltzer
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