Burke & Wills Web
The online digital research archive of expedition records
© 2020

by Peter Gebhardt, © 1992.

Secretary to Praise, Melbourne: Webbers, 1992. pp.9-12,
Meanjin, Vol 51, No 4, Summer 1992.

You can buy the diary leather-bound
And marbled on the covers:
That's his fathers monument to his sandwashed bones.

You can see the statue,
Watched by civic clock and
stained by pigeon rains.

And there he is, blessed by hoary arms,
Hoisted by the adventurer who imagined
Distance reduced to a continental walk.

You can wonder about this hero
Who has plodded through the pages
Recording his life dutiful, his daily,
Imperatives in the service of mapmakers,
Touched by dreams of monuments.

The silence is parsed by the pen
Scratching across the pages
Subduing the sands, the swamps and the stars.

Memory's muster is figured here,
With the transcript dictated by the dreams
And the hope of imperial pleasure,

"I think to live about four or five days,
My spirits are excellent."

"I may live four or five days
If the weather continues warm."

"If I think to live about for or five days
My religious views are not the least changed
And I have not the least fear of their being so".......

www.burkeandwills.net.au Burke & Wills Web The digital research archive of expedition records
© 2020, Dave Phoenix