William Dampier Loses Bearings, Heads East, Renegotiates Abel Tasman, Draws a Blank

Ian Gibbins



In 1642, Dutchman, Abel Tasman (1603 – 1659), was the first European to reach what the Maori call Aotearoa, the islands that became known as New Zealand. On the 4th January, 1688, English buccaneer, William Dampier (1651 – 1715) set foot on the north-west coast of Australia, then known as New Holland. His expedition report, “A New Voyage Round the World” (1697), was very popular. Amongst other things, it provided more “evidence” for the supposed lowly status of the Indigenous inhabitants of the New World. On a subsequent journey, he intended to explore the east coast of New Holland, but never made it. This piece is built from acrostic and reverse acrostics of Aotearoa / aoraetoA, using only words beginning or ending, respectively, with the appropriate letter, selected from each of the 16 paragraphs in Dampier’s 1697 text describing his time in New Holland. The word order in each section follows that of the original text.

Dampier, William. A New Voyage Round the World. (1697)

Ian Gibbins is a poet, electronic musician and video artist, having been a neuroscientist for more than 30 years and Professor of Anatomy for 20 of them. His poetry has been widely published, including three books with accompanying soundtracks: Urban Biology (2012); The Microscope Project: How Things Work (2014) and Floribunda (2015). For more info, see www.iangibbins.com.au.

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