The Ice Core Sample

by Nick Drake 

The Ice Core Sample

Hush please:
This is the library of ice,
A high security
Auditorium of silence
Far below zero;
An archive of cold
That keeps me as I am,
And reminds me of home
Now that it is gone

Listen carefully –
I am a long story,
Ten thousand feet long,
A hundred thousand years old,
A chronicle of lost time,
A long journey
Back to the first dark,
Too dark for telling;
I am every winter’s fall;
I am the keeper of the air
Of all the vanished summers;
I honour the shadows of sorrows
That have come to lie

Between my pages;
I distill lost atmospheres
Pressed into ghosts
Kept close to my cold heart.

And as for you –
What story would you like to hear?
On your two feet,
Tracking the snow
Two by two, two by two, two by two;
Here is the dust and music
Of your brief cities;
Here is the ash and smoke;
Here are your traffic jams
And vapour trails;
Here are your holidays in the sun
And your masterpieces
And your pop songs.
Here are your first cries
And last whispers;
Here are your long sighs
Of disappointment.
Here is where it went right,
And where it went wrong.
Easy come. Easy go.

So I know why you slice
Moon after moon from me,
Holding each fragile face
Up to your searchlights;
Why you measure and record
The tiny cracks and snaps
Of my mysteries;
Because you know
You are the people
Who have changed nature–
And now you are on your own.

I have no more to tell.
No questions please
About the future
For now the great narrator
Takes over;
Listen carefully to her story –
For you are in it.

The Ice Core Sample  was written by Nick Drake, during his journey to the arctic as part of the Cape Farewell expedition to the Svalbard archipelago.  This piece is apart of a book-length poem titled The Farewell Glacier. 
To read more about this piece or to purchase this book visit the artist’s page at

Background Image by Julie Hamon