The Explorer’s Grave [poem by J. Sheridan Moore, A Tribute to the Memory of Burke and Wills, 1862]

[Editor: This poem by J. Sheridan Moore, about the Burke and Wills expedition, was published in A Tribute to the Memory of Burke and Wills (broadsheet), 1862.]

The Explorer’s Grave.

By J. Sheridan Moore.

“While rolling rivers into seas shall run,
“And round the space of heaven the radiant sun;
“While trees the mountain-tops with shade supply,
“Thy honour, name, and praise shall never dim.”

Dryden’s Virgil.

In might of an unconquered will —
In light of an undying hope —
He said “This mission I’ll fulfil,
“And pathways through the desert ope.”
So, forth he went, the brave and mild,
To map a realm of wastelands wild!

Oh, breathe not words of bitter grief,
Nor tell us of that journey’s moil!
Oh, speak not of the fallen Chief,
Nor those who shared his death-crowned toil!
Enough to know a desert grave
Enfolds the relics of the brave.

It was, in sooth, a high emprise,
Through trackless wilds to trace a way,
And challenges far higher prize
Than man can mete — than men will pay.
The guerdon’s won! What may it be?
A grave beneath a box-wood tree.

Well, mountain gorge, and wildering wild,
And bickering scrub, and burning sand
No more offend: for Heaven smiled,
And won the wanderer to a land
Where cares and griefs shall ne’er annoy —
Where life’s one trance of endless joy!

A Tribute to the Memory of Burke and Wills (broadsheet), South Sydney (NSW): W. T. Baker, [1862]

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