THE mounted tribesmen gather far,
From wattled hut and herdsman's kraal,
To follow over grassy plain
The noble ostrich on his trail.
Some mount the wild, impatient steed,
And some afoot essay the chase,
With slender spear and poison'd shaft,
All ambush'd in some lonely place.
Fast by some fount, like diamond gem
Dropp'd in the desert's fenceless bound,
Amid the water-reeds they lie,
Outstretch'd upon the marshy ground,
Knowing the ostrich there will come,
Hard press'd by hunter and by steed,
To seek the water-courses lone
For drink and shelter in their need.
Far, far the spurring horsemen ride,
With savage whoop and ringing shout.
Far, far the panic-stricken flock
Flies onward in tumultuous rout;
Their black bill and their slender neck
Before them point the unerring way,
Their nervous legs and flapping wings
Ply ceaseless o'er the grassy vley,
And long and weary must the chase
Be lengthen'd o'er the desert space.
The savage far and wide will ride
To win the precious fleeing prize,
Gazing before him at those plumes
That captivate his greedy eyes;
For Sheik is shorn of half his pomp
If grac'd not with his feather'd crown,
The waving ostrich-plumes that twine
His brow with their imperial down.
And oh! what sweet young maiden brows
With golden curl or raven tress,
In other lands beyond the seas,
Those ostrich wonders shall caress!
In royal courts, in palaces,
Where queens and nobles grace the ball,
And lucent pearls and diamonds shine
Resplendent in the sumptuous hall;
How will the blazing lights illume
That floating, foamlike Afric plume,
So purely white, so peerless fair,
Drifting like snow-flake in the air!
McLellan, Isaac. Poems of the Rod and Gun. New York: Henry Thorpe, 1886.
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