memoirs, art and fragments by Thomas Milner

Sweeting’s island

Captain Sweeting RN

Long since dead

Discovered an island

Whose people had existed

In harmony with nature,

Living in rhythm with the seasons,

Innocent and undisturbed,

Unpolluted with new ideas,

Uninfected with disease,

For ten thousand years.

Until Captain Sweeting arrived

In his little wooden warship.

Paused long enough to water,

Load the ship with fruit

And fresh vegetables,

Plant the Union Jack on a hill,

Update the admiralty charts

Before sailing away again

Into the great blue yonder.

Time enough for his men

To plant other seeds

In fecund wombs

Syphilis, plague and

The common cold.

I guess they were all OK

Before Captain Sweeting RN

Took care of them with his

Voyage of discovery.

The population of that island

Which had lain undisturbed

Since time immemorial

Was wiped out in a generation

And the rest is silence.


Comments on: "Sweeting’s island" (6)

  1. ugh. (Not much of a comment, but it is concisely how I feel after reading this, Thomas. I like story poems, though sometimes sad and dashed of hope and happiness. You’re a good poet.) ~ Lily


  2. Oh dear. How awful! And common too. But it’s a very good poem and the picture fits well too.


  3. Was surprised to read this poem. I recently read The Nutmeg of Consolation, a Great Aubrey-Maturin book by Patrick O’Brian. In that book they find and rescue 2 young girls who were the only remaining occupants of Sweeting’s Island. The rest of the population dead of an imported virus/bacteria/pox.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: