Kororareka burns. Chief Kawiti’s attack
that has threatened for days finally falls and breaks
upon the town at dawn; its garrison hard pressed
to hold his quick advance, whole streets already lost
in an infernal blaze. The Anglicans are spared,
yet fierce fighting surrounds their church, frequently scarred
with musket shot by each exchange between the lines.
All others, as I write, resign themselves to turn
and flee from half-built lives to boats anchored at bay,
whose cannon, calmly poised, must soon sound in reply.
Do not fear how we fare, my very presence here
sees our mission made safe from the violence that tears
apart a morning’s peace. This episcopal ring
is worth more than its weight when witnessed by a throng
of native eyes, and none would dare to confront I,
Pikopo, in the flesh. Confined so far away
in Lyon from these shores, your continual need
to question my resolve implies a faith unmade.
Such doubts are better saved for those who kiss your hand,
leaving me to my work amongst still-savage minds.
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