Nameless Rivers Flow

There are writings one can read in which a whole new venue opens.  Such was the case with my first reading of the Robert Service poem, “To the Men of the High North”.  I was thrilled and frightened by the reading.  I was all of 10 years when I first read it.  But I soon forgot it.  It affected me, but did not open doors for me. It was, therefore, not the initial reading, that so engraved the lasting mark on my mind, but the reintroduction.

It can be said that many things are written on bathroom walls, which are often read but should not be. It is rare that something is placed upon the walls of stalls that can be found worthy of reading, let alone retaining for memory.

But once upon a moment, for me, it did.

In a tiny bathroom, in the Forestry building on the campus of Purdue University, I happen to look left and read:

The nameless men who nameless rivers travel,
and in strange valleys greet strange deaths alone;
The grim, intrepid ones who would unravel
the mysteries that shroud the Polar Zone.

There was not attribute given.  Thus, I did not know whom was being quoted. I only knew, I had heard it before.  And that I must find out the writer’s name.

This was in the early days of the building wave of information access. To become known as, the Internet.  So the search for information was still conducted the old-fashioned way: Library card files!

I will admit it: I HATE, card files!  I love information, but my ADHD; or so it was labeled; but we both know it was just sheer impatience that would rattle my brain.  By the time I was nearing a location, I would lose interest and quit.  This dilemma, into which I bulldozed each and every time, was one of the core reasons I began a dogged search for, as I used-to-say,

“I am looking for a method technology that would allow me to live from ‘here to Okavango, Botswana’ and still do my work, market my work, sell my work and communicate with business associates, colleagues and clients.”

What I had sought since May 1975, I would find in January 1990, the technology that became the Internet.

Needless to say, I neither asked the right people for help and I did not find the information in the hell-hole, known as the Dewey Decimal card file system!  Thus… the WHOM behind the verse went unanswered.

Fast forward to the year 2004.  I was doing my usual Google Search for one thing and finding an entire Universe of something else, vastly more interesting and informative.  In the process I came across the quote again. But this time, I was able to bread-crumb it back to the source. VOILA! I found Robert Service and and a wonderful online compilation of his poetry.

In honor of the fabulous writing of Robert Service, I have produced this eLITHOGRAPH image, from a photo I took in 2004 while in Alaska.  When I took the photo on 10 October 2004, standing alongside a paved highway, looking out over this glacier fed river in the heart of the Alaskan wilds, my mind immediately went to the Robert Service poem, “To the Men of the High North“, I had rediscovered only a couple of months earlier.

It fit. I so amazingly fit. I saw it. Smelled it. Tasted it.  The ‘intrepid ones’… I could hear their voices.  And I thanked them for their courage and suffering. I still do.

This eLITHOGRAPH is named, “Nameless Rivers Flow”.  It measures 34″ x 24.5″ and prints out as a watercolor.


Nameless Rivers Flow, Les Booth, OOAKGallery
Nameless Rivers Flow; eLITHOGRAPH by Les Booth; 34″ x 24.5″, watercolor output




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