Departing the Southern Ocean

Dec 10, 2019 - National Geographic Orion

In the final days of our voyage, we think of the great Southern Ocean and all the denizens thereof. No better summary could be than the simple words of Pablo Neruda, poet laureate of Chile, and his poem, “Ode to the Wandering Albatross.”


Oda a un Albatros Errante


En alta mar navega el viento

dirigido por el albatros:

esta es la nave del albatros:

cruza, desciende, danza, sube,

se suspende en la luz oscura,

toca las torres de la ola,

anida en la hirviente argamasa

del desordenado element

mientras la sal lo condecora

y silba la espuma frenética,

resbala volando el albatross

con sus grandes alas de música

dejando sobre la tormenta

un libro que sigue volando:

es el estatuto del viento


The wind sails the open sea

steered by the albatross;

this is the ship of the albatross;

that glides, falls, dances, climbs,

hangs motionless in the fading light,

touches the waves' towers,

settles down in the disorderly element's

seething mortar

while the salt crowns it with laurels

and the furious foam hisses,

skims the waves

with its great symphonic wings,

leaving above the tempest

a book that flies on forever:

the statute of the wind

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About the Author

Jack Schmitt

Jack Schmitt

About the Photographer

Robert Edwards


Growing up in the Appalachian foothills of the Garden State, Rob instinctively knew it made a lot more sense to head over the hill into the fields, forests, lakes, and streams behind his house, rather than down the road to the shopping mall in front of it. The natural world piqued the inherent curiosity in all of us and set his life course based on these questions: how does the world work, and how do we as humans fit into it?  

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