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

by Phil Radnidge

Radfours Pollie Poems & Others
© Sunday, 27 June 2010.

Burke and Wills left Melbourne City, with one loan goal, and
Burke was charged by committee, to lead the small patrol.

Wills, with Burke leading the way, were men of fine renown,
And took nineteen others on that day, from old Melbourne town.

History tells their cause was lost; seven died on the way,
And the tale I tell is the tragic cost, of Burke and Wills last day.

Three feeble souls straggled and toiled,
Tracking Coopers Creek,
Bodies crippled racked and roiled,
Minds weary and weak.
No thought now of brave new world,
Sapience long since gone,
Survival! The single thought which swirled,
Driving the three men on.

Wills staggered silent mid Cooper's sedge,
Breathless, cold he heaved,
His mind ran wild, at reasons edge!
So young, alone, aggrieved.
Then quelling fear he softly said,
"You must go your way",
The two drew back, in sinking dread,
And Wills began to pray.

Mother! Oh Mother! Wherever you be, my soul and heart cry for thee,
Soon we will meet and I`ll nestle with you, in Heavens eternity!

Burke and King stood; head bowed,
Touched by his prayer,
With heavy heart they silent vowed,
An end to his despair.
The desperate men gripped his hand,
Bony rough and weak,
Then left Wills to his final stand,
Alone at Coopers Creek.

Mind delirious, wracked with fear,
Wills staggered back,
The evening dusk turned grey and drear,
Then to deepened black.
And `neath cold eve a lilting sigh,
A call of final fey?
From reapers hand as death drew nigh?
Wills heard it say,

Son! Oh my Son! Wherever you be, my soul and heart cry for thee,
Your brow will I stroke, as you nestle with me, in heavens eternity!

Wills on knees all pain now passed,
Gently lay to clay,
His fate now sealed set free at last,
Met his God that day.

The two dragged out their desperate plight,
Struggling for their cause,
Weary by day, and resting by night,
One step from deathly jaws.
Two mornings away Burke cried "no more!"
"King, I can`t sustain,
Please leave me now I gently implore"
Return to Wills again!"

Bare skin and bone Burke lay on grass,
Living his last of days,
Cringing he cried at his impasse, and
Remorse ridden malaise,
"Where the brave souls ill fated I lead?
Confiding hope and trust?
Eleven long months and five men dead,
Each one gone to dust!"

Ravaged by hunger and savaged by pain,
In shade of coolabah tree,
The winds of winter chilled his brow,
Heavy with sweat running free.
"Am I to die in this hell unforgiving?
Far from Emerald lands?
Far from pipers of sweet Galway?
And touch of motherly hands?"

Mother! Oh Mother! Wherever you be, my soul and heart cry for thee,
Soon we will meet and I`ll nestle with you, in Heavens eternity!

"Wills! Wills! King are you there?
Who gathers in the haze?
By light now dim and hope in despair,
I pray for end of days!"
Am I forgiven? Will soul rot in hell?
Hold me I shake in fear!
I hear the bell peel its distant knell,
And faces; I see so dear!

Son! Oh my Son! Nestle with me, my soul and heart are for thee,
I stroke once again your gentle soft brow, in heavens eternity!

Burke left his world, with no due reward,
No master of his fate,
Joining those dead, at one with their Lord,
As history will relate.

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