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

by Margaret Thomas

A Century of Australian Song
London: Walter Scott Publishers

Death in the bush
Suggested by the death of Burke and Wills

To die, to perish in the bush alone,
With but the wilds to hear thy parting groan;

With but the winds to catch thy last parting breath,
And mock the last long agony of death;

To feel some message to the true and dear
Clamour for utterance, yet with none to hear;

To long with anguish health can never know
For the last solace human hands bestow;

Yet hear no gentle tone, no soft caress
Soothing thy spirit's last and worst distress;

To feel a thousand thoughts for language rise,
Yet which must perish when the body dies;

Where no kind voice can quell the rising fears,
No gentle hand wipe off the bitter tears;

To face the awful king unarmed, alone,
Thy loss unnoticed, and thy fate unknown;

To know not if thy wasted form shall lie
And shrivel 'neath the sun's all scorching eye;

Or if the warrigal with rapture grim
Shall tear thee piece from piece, and limb from limb;

To know thine eyes might gaze unclosed to heaven,
Till from their orbs by crows and swamp-hawks riven;

Which to their prey, while still thou'rt conscious, rush;
God grant we face not death while in the bush.

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