THE HUNTER IN CENTRAL AFRICA a Poem
THE HUNTER IN CENTRAL AFRICA
THE hunter roam'd far in the broad Afric land.
Where the pallahs and gnus arc gather'd in band,
And the oryx and springboks and sable hartbeest
Over green boundless pastures collect to the feast:
Where herds of wild elephants crash thro' the woods,
And the black rhinoceros wallows in floods,
Where the lion and leopard devastate the plain
, And hyenas and jackals feed on their slain;
Where the stately giraffe and swift antelope
Sweep the vales at the base of the grand mountain-slope.
How fair are those woodlands, those pastures of green,
Where the interlac'd boughs weave an emerald screen,
So deep in their gloom that scarce may the light
Pierce the roof of the grove with pencilings bright!
There boundless the iron-wood forests extend
And the lofty acacias gracefully bend,
And mimosas and willows and fragrant white-thorn,
Whose rich yellow blossoms the woodlands adorn.
Where gay blooming flowers embroider the grass,
And birds of rare plumes and sweet melodies pass.
In the belt of the woods, with their green colonnades.
The fern and the passion-flower brighten'd the glades.
O! noble the game of this African land—
The lion, the leopard, the elephant grand,
The wild-boar and buffaloes sweeping the plain,
Their measureless pastures, their endless domain.
The hunt-jr takes rifle, then summons his men,
Rechuanas and Bushmen, from mountain and glen;
Tall, stalwart, and lithe as leopards in flight,
Some true as the steel, some trembling with fright.
He bids them take knife and sharp assegai
When the herd of wild elephants threaten the way.
Bull-elephants, arm'd with tushes so strong
That trample and crush as they thunder along,
So majestic in stature, colossal in height,
It is peril and death to meet them in fight.
In these vales and ravines and forests of green
The foot-paths of elephants thickly are seen,
Where for ages untold these monsters have trod,
And whose white, bleaching bones still sprinkle the sod.
'Mid jungles of speckboom their relics are found,
Where mimosa thickets o'ershadow the ground;
Where the yellow-wood, cedar, and iron-wood grow,
Crown'd with vine wreaths perennial, a wonderful show.
'Tis Tao, the lion, is monarch of all!
Whose roarings terrific the Bushmen appal!
When you meet him alone in the forests, beware;
Beware when at night he stalks forth from his lair.
How majestic in death!—the eyeballs of fire,
The great rounded head, so frightful in ire,
The vast massive arms, the black shaggy mane.
The sharp crooked claws, blood-red with the skin;
The powerful jaws, the symmetry line,
In beauty so perfect in every line;
And you feel that the noblest of prizes is won
When he lies grim in death, the spoil of your gun.
Ah! hear him at night when all nature is still
And darkness and silence hold forest and hill;
Hear his low, growling moan, his full, solemn roar,
Now muffled, now hoarse, like the surge on the shore;
Hear the roar of two troops that meet at the brink
Of the forest-shut fountain its crystal to drink.
Hear the roar of defiance, so fierce, so intense
That it deafens and daunts the terrified sense;
Then say that no thunder that rolls in the sky
Hath a tone so sublime as this menacing cry!
McLellan, Isaac. Poems of the Rod and Gun. New York: Henry Thorpe, 1886.
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