Drums of Mer

Drums of Mer

Drums of Mer

Scritto da:
Ion Idriess

To one who for a good many years has lived among the tropic isles of Torres Strait, and whose constant regret has been that their romantic attractiveness is so little known even to Australians, the Drums of Mer comes with very strong appeal. There are some who may think that Mr Idriess is giving us simply an imaginative picture, but the author has travelled the Strait with the discerning eye and contemplative soul of the artist who is satisfied only with first-hand colour, and who, while blending history and romance with subtle skill, at the same time keeps within the region of fact. The records and documents placed at his disposal by those who have patiently collected them in the interests of history, of ethnological and scientific research, and (if one may be allowed to say so) even of missionary theological science also, provide the rich store upon which he has drawn for the thrilling story he has woven round the people of Mer and the other islands of Torres Strait. We have been waiting for someone to catch the charm and appealing mysteriousness of these islands, and to visualize the days, not so very long past, when the great outrigger canoes, with their companies of feather-bedecked headhunters, traversed the opalescent waters a couple of hundred miles down the Barrier, to return perhaps with cowering white captives or grim human trophies for the ceremonies of the 'Au-gud-Au-Ai,' the 'Feast of the Great God.' And if it seems that the starkness of tragedy throws a cloud here and there over the dramatic episodes which the author has so well narrated, possibly it is a good thing for present-day tourist-travellers (and others too!), to realize that a trip along the Barrier and through the Strait on the way to China was not always so free from danger.
(from Foreword by Wm. H. MacFarlane), Mission Priest, Torres Strait; Administrator of the Diocese of Carpentaria. 31 July 1933.)


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