She followed a full bright moon
That appeared from the ocean’s edges
Where day’s detritus disappeared soon
Under the arch of rainbows over the horizon;
Upon a hill across the moonlit lanes
She looked at the world below
Revealing wondrous symmetries
And every part of her breasting the breeze
From the ocean far away yonder
She flew down the starry stairs
With felicity that was not ecstasy
And resembled pleasure only
As the breeze resembled wind
The feast of St Thomas Aquinas
Banqueted in the celestial garden
By the Lethe, across the bridges
Between the earth and heaven –
There, Water-bearer of gods
Whose beauty enslaved the prince
To the passion of supreme desires
Served the guests from the universe –
Gods, goddesses, saints, angels, –
Escaped to his fancy of wishes
To return to the world, his Troy
That existed no more in this world
And spilled the stream of stars
From the jar that lusciously cascaded
Into the earth as radiant meteors
Becoming Mystery Aquarius Children.
Curious, timorous, adventurous
Alone meows, together high paws
Once an orphan now a forever home
The little heart writes her a poem.
She comes from todays
When nature allows her spirit
With the body growing revival
To cross the tumbling waves
And stops the flows of regret
To erase blotted yesterdays.
The masts were solemnly lowered as the anchor was triumphantly docked in at a Hoboken harbor in New Jersey. Then there appeared a young woman with eyes of brilliance that glowed with joy and alacrity of departure from her race against the time. One hundred thirty-one years ago today was when one steely journalist named Nellie Bly broke the boundary of imagination and reality by completing her round-the-world race in 72 days at New Jersey. Bly’s phenomenal record was indeed transcendent of the realm of fictitious reality where Phileas Fogg, Jules Verne’s creation of gentleman adventurer, finished his globe-trotting in 80 days. The world record was not only a sensational media headline in her time but also a glowing manifestation of grit, resilience, and the power of the mind that Bly demonstrated on herself as a woman.
Born Elizabeth Jane Cochran in 1864 in a small Pennsylvania mill town, Nellie Bly was her catchy nom de plume for the literary world, where she became successful. She was something of a frontier pioneer woman in investigative journalism and adventuring into unpathed areas of news reporting of the Dickensian world of crime and health bureaucracy, notably of the asylum at Blackwell’s Island in New York where she infiltrated as an undercover. However, a panoply of her achievements backfired when her pent-up yearning for holidays on a different shore agreed to a spectacular proposal by Joseph Pulitzer, the New York World owner, of the ingenious race-round-the world against the time. Bly’s decision to embark on the one-of-kind adventure was an apropos admixture of personal yearning to get away from the weight of reality and the publisher’s entrepreneurial aim to proliferate circulations.
So there off, she embarked on the race with a trunk containing hygiene necessities, a few wardrobes, and some books to read, but without any weapon, not least because of her belief: “If you smile at the world, the world will smile at you.” She sailed across the Atlantic Ocean from New York, through Europe, the Arabian Sea, and the Far East, and then back across the Pacific to return to the homeland. During the voyage from Hong Kong to Japan, Bly heard that another contender emerged from the oceans’ edges: twenty-eight years old Elizabeth Bisland, the literary editor of Cosmopolitan, a rival publication of The New York World. Always achieving, always forwarding, Bly hastened to complete her race guarded by the goddess of fortune and blessed by Jules Verne, whom she met during the race in Europe and was able to trounce her rival journalist arriving five days earlier and Philias Fogg eight days.
Bly was a supreme one of a kind, not most because she was a woman reporter who was some rarity. Instead, she was a person of indomitable determination, commendable work ethic, and insatiable curiosity, which were coveted attributes even to men of high aspiration. Bly demonstrated the Nietzschean will to power in her achievement by the epiphany of the noble soul to create capabilities to make the idea into an incredible and remarkable reality in the chapter of humankind’s history. Herodotus would have loved to record it.