As a naturalist
I was struck with certain facts
The naming of things is my main occupation
I speak of this at The Royal Society
And of our last voyage around the world
In my waist coat and my gold fob watch
I recount the crossing of continents
From sea to sea, an enterprise viewed
With almost universal foreboding
Driven by storms to a land of snow and ice
We abandoned the coast. We travelled inland.
We daubed our names with the blood of others
Across the face of the highest mountain.
We saw Snow White in her glass coffin
A flat silver lake made the scene complete
In the density of the forest we carved patterns
In the trunks of trees. The table was set for tea
Delirious, laughing, frantic. We were filthy.
Hidden deep, sealed from the grand sweep of history
And we heard mythical creatures
Moaning on the wind
Another party of explorers was dispatched
They concocted a nightmare
‘We’ll say you nearly died,’ they said.
‘We’ll say the natives kept you against your will.’
‘And then our fame will be assured and so will yours.’