Plays & Musicals
This Fatal Island
* Also available on CD *
The tragedy of the
death of Captain Cook in Hawaii.
Winner of a play competition for the bicentenary for the
founding of Australia.
“It is a very
good work and obviously merits its prize.”
Director Old Tote Theatre Company, 1970.
Dr. Samwell –
If ever grandchildren stand at my knee and ask have you
sometime seen a miracle
I will say I have lived through one, the miracle of two
on seas so vast I could believe the moon was torn from the
side of the world
for this Pacific Ocean. Two ships so leaky in the seams, so
rotten in the rigging
the navy would not send to battle yet, treacherous from mast
they blithely pass them fit for battle with all arsenal of
wind and wet
and rock and reef that have brought so many wandering ships
I have seen our
captain, Captain Cook, wizard of the baffling elements,
conjure these two ships together - twins never apart from
each other –
by daily splendours of seamanship to keep these stubborn
We’ll need this master mariner to round America in the north
if, like Cape Horn, a gate to hell, we are bedevilled by the
the blizzard, broken ice and lee shore winds to savage
We go as sacrifice
to a futile dream, the North-West Passage,
But this mighty captain will write more glory to England’s
as lord of this mutinous wilderness than any soldier’s done
Captain Cook was
killed in sad affray, when forced to turn back to Hawaii to
replace a broken mast. Only his bones and a hand were
returned for Captain Clerke, who chose to bury his pitiful
remains at sea before they turned for home with the young
William Bligh as navigator.
There can be no mistake. It is his hand,
the hand that wrote the incomparable log so long,
the hand that schemed with the proud and peerless brain
to score the map and charts and plot our path
the hand, servant of such a steady mind
that shook neither with squalls of men nor storm.
See, the very scar that proved him a fighting man
but not as men of simple reasoning thought –
the cut and thrust to be uppermost in sinew
among humans – but on that wide implacable nature,
the rhythmic blood of this planet, the beating waters;
man dominant and in command of mortality
man in conquest of his universe,
his superstition, servitude and terror.
We leave no site for future commemoration.
His memorial is in the minds of men.