I wrote much of this song in 1985 approx, after reading a book about Scott and his voyage to the Antarctic (1912). I think it was the pictures of the Antarctic sky, which held most appeal for me. It is hard to imagine that these people did not have access to stuff like goretex and why on earth did they use ponies instead of dogs? With two world wars and advances in technology, the world has changed so much since then. Following some rework and a fresh direction for the tune, the song was a semi finalist in the UK songwriting contest a couple of years ago. You can hear the song on Soundcloud.

Terra Nova

Down to the south where the albatross flies

Down below zero is where that land lies

Where Wilson drew sketches of penguin and gull

Life below canvas and barnacled hull

The shivering timbers and creek of a mast

Scantily clad for the chill and the blast

Terra Nova


Frost bit the finger and blackened the toe

They ate all their ponies and drank melted snow

While Paraselenae played tricks on the eye

Reflecting the moon through the ice in the sky

By a flickering candle they managed a brew

Sometimes they thought they might even get through

Terra Nova


Fighting to muster a resolute tread

Working like dogs to pull on a sled

Until the weather closed in and extracted its toll

An ocean of space between them and the pole

Slip out for a moment and no-one will mind

Not even a print or a mark left to find

Terra Nova


To some it would seem the whole journey was tragic

No sense of adventure, no moment of magic,

No stomach to push to get close to the edge

But to shrug off complacency out on some ledge

I’d go there if I could, in a boat made of wood

And I’d stand in the shoes where those people once stood

Terra Nova, Terra Nova, Terra Nova


Paul J Openshaw 2010

© Paul J Openshaw 2012