Diane Hine (25 July 1956)
A Letter to England
Dear Captain Bryce,
I trust your voyage was fruitful and this letter finds you well.
I'm fine and when I last saw Hope she radiated health!
We were dismayed to learn that your return was long delayed,
but Hope was quite determined to begin our escapade.
We sailed for Amazonia to assist a friend in need
and chugged along a river in a tub ill-named ‘Allspeed'.
We naturally expected cabins, bathrooms, meals and beds,
but none of these appeared and we were clearly unprepared.
I have to say that first night was a miserable affair.
Mosquitoes, flying termites, smoke and sweat stink clogged the air.
While others slept in hammocks, drawn around to shield from bites,
we huddled on the deck and slapped at bugs with no respite.
Next morning, since our appetites and skins were both inflamed,
we joined a group of men who played a native gambling game.
We played to win some breakfast, but our losses were unchecked
until (we thought) they pointed to the locket at Hope's neck.
I won't say ‘cheat', and yet they stretched the rules to say the least.
But though we lost, they treated us to hammocks and a feast.
A few days later, ‘Allspeed' briefly rested at a pier
which led to curtained green and there our error was made clear.
Around the boat, pink dolphins said hello with smiling beaks
and swallows diamond cut the river's olive satin sheet.
The gambling men departed with the locket AND with Hope!
They wouldn't let me take her place. She said 'Don't fret, I'll cope'.
I followed them along a path confined by thorny reeds,
but turned back from a mangrove swamp with strangulating weeds.
You mustn't worry, since she has a strong resilient mind
and though uncouth, they didn't seem the cannibalistic kind.
I hate to ask a favour and I'm sorry for the strife,
but when you're fully rested, would you help me find your wife?
Poet's Notes about The Poem
Edelweiss Petty and Hope make a Seaside Discovery
Captain Bryce in Tasmania
A Letter to England
Edelweiss finds L. In the Amazon
Hope (a rondeau)
Sestina: Captain Bryce in the Amazon
Lucretius and the Anteater
Hope and Edelweiss
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