ELEPHANT-HUNTING IN THE ISLAND OF CEYLON a Poem
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ELEPHANT-HUNTING IN THE ISLAND OF CEYLON a Poem

ELEPHANT-HUNTING IN THE ISLAND OF CEYLON a Poem




      

ELEPHANT-HUNTING IN THE ISLAND OF CEYLON a Poem


ELEPHANT-HUNTING IN THE ISLAND OF CEYLON

THESE mountain-girdled plains of steep decliae,
Seam'd here and there with precipices steep,
Descend in narrow belts of jungle to the stream.
Amid those rugged grass-lands lie the elk,
'Mid arid ravines and the forest-shades,
And here in fastnesses of wood and rock
The mighty elephant hath found a home.

There thro' those awful gorges torrents roar,
And bellowing cataracts plunge amain,
Prone thro' the narrow chasms of the cliffs.
One plunge! then, without ledge to break the fall,
It downward shoots,—at first like crystal glass,
Then like a broken cataract of snow;
Then all is seething foam and clouds of mist!

In Afric lands the elephant delights
lu level downs where grows his chosen food,
The juicy mimosas, but in Ceylon realms
lie seeks the sides of jungle-mantled mounts,
Threading the rugged alleys of the rocks.
There, amid jungle-flowers or soft morass,
Deep lakes, or muddy tanks or shallow pools,
With cautious stride he tramples on his way.

Noble these scenes of nature! With great woods
Thro' which the boiling river ploughs its way,
Forests whose interlacing boughs extend
Above, and cast dark shadows o'er the wave;
Waves brighten'd by the gleam of darting fish.
These great beasts of the wild at night forsake
The jungles, and thro' forests pass to drink
And bathe in stream, then seek their haunts at dawn.

The hunters with their native beater-scouts
Were out at day-dawn, tramping thro' the plains
And streams, then halted in an opening of the woods,
Awaiting breathless th' approaching herds.
No pen or tongue that grand scene may describe,—
The trumpeting and roaring of the herd,
Mingled with shrill screams of remoter herds;
The snap of stems and branches of the trees,
The rushing sound of tree-tops, as if storms
Were howling thro' them as the herd press on.
The forest edge was fac'd with network dense
Of trailing creepers, forming a vast screen.
That cloth'd the wood as ivies clasp a wall.
Behind their leafy veil the great herds came,
The forests trembling with the mighty charge.
The verdant curtain parted with their rush;
The jungle-ropes and snaky stems were torn
From the tall tree-tops, strewing all the ground.
Then one great mass of elephantine heads,
Swinging their dusky trunks with screams of rage,
Burst thro' the foliage, while sharp rifle-shots
With carnage reddeu'd all that forest-glade.


McLellan, Isaac. Poems of the Rod and Gun. New York: Henry Thorpe, 1886.

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