Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Mountain Mythos

image by grayson schaffer.

Mountain Mythos

It’s not the mountain that we conquer
but ourselves.”--Edmund Hillary.

In 218 BC, one of the most famous mountain crossings
       in history, was done by Hannibal, who at 29 years old,
             became a general, fighting against the Romans. He led
                      his Carthaginians, made up mostly of Africans and
             Iberians, which included dozens of war elephants, clear
        across three passes in the Alps, using two autumn months
to do it, descending into the Po Valley before marching on Rome.

In 73 AD, after Spartacus escaped from a Ludi in Capua,
leading 200 gladiators in flight--they made their encampment
on Mt. Vesuvius. Their ranks swelled quickly. Soon, a Roman
cohort, lead by Praetor Glaber, bivouacked at the base of the
the mountain. Spartacus. & his men, repelled down a steep cliff
that was not observed, outflanked them, & won the first battle of
the Third Servile War.

In Japan, on Honshu Island,               Mt. Fuji has always been an iconic
representation for that part of             Asia. It was once home to a fire god,
& a Shinto goddess of Wisdom,         her temple was supposed to be on the
summit. In addition, the Mt.                was the home of the Luminous Maiden,
                 who was reputed to have led an emperor to his doom.

                                                            My neighbor, Mt. Rainier, was first dis-
                                                      covered by the Meso-Indian tribe from the
                                              Nertal Islands in 200 AD. Geologists tell us that 
                                Mt. Rainier was formed by a super massive geo-thermal 
                        event in 150 AD. One of the native myths claimed that the Mt.
             is honeycombed with hundreds of man-made tunnels that lead down
to the center of the earth where a sacred tribe of demi-gods reside.
                         The Indians called the mountain Talol, then
                         Tahoma. In 1792, explorer George Vancouver 
                          renamed it Rainier, after an Admiral friend of
                          his. It has 25 glaciers, & has 2 million visitors
                          a year.

Mt. Everest, more than 29,000 feet in height, is the world’s
tallest mountain--& it is very dangerous. Hundreds of people
have perished on its unforgiving slopes. They officially started
trying to climb it in 1921, but of course the Sherpas had been
climbing it for centuries, just for the hell of it. From then through
the 30’s & 40’s, they had dozens of failed attempts, but it was
finally crested in 1953 by Edmund Hillary, who was
knighted for it. I read where for only $1,800 dollars,
anyone can hook up with a tourist climbing group.
I think I’d rather go to Tahiti.

Man has a need to 
climb every mountain just
because they are there.

Glenn Buttkus

Posted over on dVerse Poets Pub

Smile; you will note George Vancouver named Mt. Rainier in 1792, not "1972" as I just stated.


Grace said...

Your opening quote is very inspiring Glenn ~

It amazes me when men attempts to climb the highest mountains for the sheet adventure of it ~ Maybe this is akin to landing on the moon, and telling everyone, here is the flag and I have been here ~ If I have the money and energy, I would take that offer to climb up, smiles ~

Thanks for joining us and hope to see this Thursday for OLN ~

lynn__ said...

A high-altitude poem about epic mountains, Glenn! Thanks for sharing this excellent post. I love me a mountain but I too would choose Tahiti over Everest any day.

Mary said...

So very true, Glenn! Man definitely is up for any challenge. I am sure Mount Rainer is a challenge that few mountain climbers in Washington State can pass by! Where there are mountains there are climbers. And yes, Everest is the ultimate!

Sanaa Rizvi said...

So true! We can definitely conquer heights if we want to.


This is my best misreading ever:

"... made up mostly of Africans and librarians" :)

So much "yummy" for this word: "bivouacked"

I love how your poems are looking these days. I've watched you for years, and the evolution in style has been such a treat to observe. Your spacing and visual presentation really is a pleasure to savor.

"It was once home to a fire god,
& a Shinto goddess of Wisdom" ... This is my favorite.

Ooh, sexy:
"the home of the Luminous Maiden,
who was reputed to have led an emperor to his doom"

I also like these sections:
"The Indians called the mountain Talol"
"Hundreds of people
have perished on its unforgiving slopes."
"but of course the Sherpas"

Ha ha ha. I am dying over the ending. This, going into the haiku:
"finally crested in 1953 by Edmund Hillary, who was
knighted for it. I read where for only $1,800 dollars,
anyone can hook up with a tourist climbing group.
I think I’d rather go to Tahiti."

So good, Glenn. It's always a treat to come visit you.

tonispencer said...

Fuji-san was my ultimate and climbed it years ago when I had breath and strong legs. Being born in the piedmont of NC, I am always torn between the mountains the ocean. So many of our eastern mountains were settled by the Scottish-Irish folk escaping persecution and homesick for their own mountains. And so very true - we humans climb, cross, fly around over and through things just because we can.

Gayle Walters Rose said...

Climbing a mountain is the last thing I can think of wanting to do but I loved your informational haibun, Glenn. And how true...we take on challenges like Everest simply because it's there and begging to be summited.

Anonymous said...

I live in a flat place. There are no mountains or hills, just little undulations now and then. Mountains are amazing and daunting. Your writing has inspired me to look for a mountain to climb! By the way - the 'I'm not a robot' widget asked me to pick out all the images with mountains.

Unknown said...

You wrote about the mountains that have been conquered and I wrote about a mountain that has not :). Your poem is robust with a massive foundation in history, like a mountain. I would have loved to see those war elephants but not the carnage wrought.

Walter J. Wojtanik said...

As I've said before, I learn so much when I visit here! And the way you express these facts draws me to read further! The end verse always says it for me, this no exception!

kaykuala said...

because they are there.

The classic attraction to conquer is always the reason. To think a NZ bee-keeper could do it a few days before the Queen's coronation in 1953. Exhaustive take on famous mountain conquests Glenn!