Australian bush poetry, australian formal poetry, Australian traditional poetry, Captain James Cook, Hawaii, Kealakekua Bay, poem, poetry
A monument stands by this peaceful bay,
Close to the shore where laps the rising tide,
And marks in shining stone that fatal day
When Cook, the greatest navigator died.
Was on these wave-washed rocks the cruel blow struck,
By those who he had sought to treat so well.
With knife and spear and club they ran amok;
There in the shallow sea was where he fell.
His body taken, naked and debased.
Destroyed upon the searing coals of fires,
While sailors out to sea this horror faced:
The smell of smoke, the glow of funeral pyres.
Mistake, misunderstanding, sealed his fate,
And superstition fueled the murder lust,
As on each side saw friendship turn to hate,
And trust the years in building, turn to dust.
And when this madness had at last been quelled;
When eye taken for eye and more bereaved,
The King of all who on this island dwelled,
He gave up Cook’s remains to those who grieved.
And then in mourning, those on sea and land,
As silence over all the people fell.
His bones they were, for there his severed hand!
Across the waves the Resolution’s bell
Tolled out, to sound for him a last adieu,
And hardened men were heard to softly weep,
As at half mast, above, the ensigns flew,
As his remains committed to the deep.
Black smoke, it plumed from Resolution’s side
As guns fired out to him a last salute.
No more to sail uncharted oceans wide.
No more determination resolute.
Much loved and missed – a genius at sea,
Now mouldering beneath this tropic bay,
And Clerke and Bligh and King would all agree
The world, a giant, had lost here on that day.