There is a land whereon the sun’s warm gaze,
God-like, all-seeing, falls right down through space,
And the weak Earth, quite smitten by its rays,
Lies scorch’d and powerless with mute silent face,
Like a tranced body, where no changing glow
Tells that the life-streams through its channels flow.
Peopled it is by nations scant and few,
Set far apart among the trackless sands,
Unlearn’d, uncultured, wild and swart of hue,
Roaming the deserts in divided bands,
Where the green pastures call them, and the deer
Troop yet within the range of bow and spear.
Unhappy Afric! can thy boundless plains,
Where the royal lion snuffs the free pure air,
And every breeze laughs at the tyrant’s chains,
Be but the nest of slavery and despair,
Rearing a brood whose craven souls can be
Robb’d of the very dream of Liberty?
But, as the shore of this vast sea of sand,
Stretches afar a country rich and green,
With waving foliage shading all the land,
And flowing waters bright with sunny sheen;
And here browse countless herds of dappled deer,
Blesboks and antelopes, remote from fear.
Amid it mighty mountains proudly rise,
Great monarchs of a boundless continent,
Rearing their hoary summits to the skies,
As claiming empire of the firmament;
Gaunt silent majesties of sea and earth,
Stern-featured children of Titanic birth.
Within their shadows many peoples dwell;
Divided kingdoms gather’d round some chief,
With lodges cluster’d by some stream or well,
To yield their cattle ever cool relief
From the fierce scorching of the burning sun,
And slake their hot thirst when the toil is done.
It chanced that war, which still doth enter in
Where men are most or fewest, small or great,
Here of a sudden raised its hellish din,
And woke to fury, lust, and bloody hate;
So that with battles, forays, murders, thefts,
Rang oft the echoes of the mountain clefts.
There was one tribe that in unconscious ease
Slumber’d and thought of danger but in dreams,
Heard not the tramp of men upon the breeze,
While the stars, watching with faint trembling beams,
Saw noiseless spectres round the village creep,
Like apparitions of unquiet sleep.
Then, silence-murder’d, what a yell arose!
And the scared sleepers, rushing forth in fear,
Met death without the portals from dim foes,
Or e’er the warrior could grasp his spear,
Or fit the arrow to his unstrung bow,
Or ward the fatal stroke that laid him low.
So, with the plunder, and a captured band
Of hapless women, ere the morning light
Flitted the victors swiftly through the land,
Red with the trophies of their deadly fight,
Leaving the lion and his hungry crew
To clear the morning of this bloody dew.