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Thomas Pringle

The Caffer

Lo! where he crouches by the cleugh's dark side,
Eyeing the farmer's lowing herds afar;
Impatient watching till the Evening Star
Lead forth the Twilight dim, that he may glide
Like panther to the prey. With freeborn pride
He scorns the herdsman, nor regards the scar
Of recent wound -- but burnishes for war
His assagai and targe of buffalo-hide.
He is a Robber? -- True; it is a strife
Between the black-skinned bandit and the white.
A Savage? -- Yes; though loth to aim at life,
Evil for evil fierce he doth requite.
A Heathen? -- Teach him, then, thy better creed,
Christian! if thou deserv'st that name indeed.

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To Sir Walter Scott

From deserts wild and many a pathless wood
Of savage climes where I have wandered long,
Whose hills and streams are yet ungraced by song,
I bring, illustrious friend, this garland rude:
The offering, though uncouth, in kindly mood
Thou wilt regard, if haply there should be,
'Mong meaner things, the flower simplicity,
Fresh from coy Nature's virgin solitude.
Accept this frail memorial, honoured Scott,
Of favoured intercourse in former day --
Of words of kindness I have ne'er forgot --
Of acts of friendship I can ne'er repay:
For I have found (and wherefore say it not?)
The Minstrel's heart as noble as his lay.

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The Bushman

The Bushman sleeps within his black-browed den,
In the lone wilderness. Around him lie
His wife and little ones unfearingly --
For they are far away from 'Christian Men.'
No herds, loud lowing, call him down the glen:
He fears no foe but famine; and may try
To wear away the hot noon slumberingly;
Then rise to search for roots -- and dance again.
But he shall dance no more! His secret lair,
Surrounded, echoes to the thundering gun,
And the wild shriek of anguish and despair!
He dies -- yet, ere life's ebbing sands are run,
Leaves to his sons a curse, should they be friends
With the proud 'Christian-Men' -- for they are fiends!

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The Hottentot

Mild, melancholy, and sedate, he stands,
Tending another's flock upon the fields,
His father's once, where now the White Man builds
His home, and issues forth his proud commands.
His dark eye flashes not; his listless hands
Lean on the shepherd's staff; no more he wields
The Libyan bow -- but to th' oppressor yields
Submissively his freedom and his lands.
Has he no courage? Once he had -- but, lo!
Harsh Servitude hath worn him to the bone.
No enterprise? Alas! the brand, the blow,
Have humbled him to dust -- even hope is gone!
"He's a base-hearted hound -- not worth his food" --
His Master cries -- "he has no gratitude!"

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The Emigrant's Farewell

Our native land - our native vale -
A long and last adieu!
Farewell to bonny Teviotdale,
And Cheviot mountains blue.

Farewell, ye hills of glorious deeds,
And streams renown'd in sing -
Farewell ye braes and blossom'd meads,
Our hearts have lov'd so long.

Farewell, the blythesome broomy knowes,
Where thyme and harebells grow -
Farewell, the hoary, haunted howes,
O'erhung with birk and sloe.

The mossy cave and mouldering tower
That skirt our native dell -
The martyr's grave, and lover's bower,
We bid a sad farewell!

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The Coranna

Fast by his wild resounding River
The listless Coran lingers ever;
Still drives his heifers forth to feed,
Soothed by the gorrah's humming reed;
A rover still unchecked will range,
As humour calls, or seasons change;
His tent of mats and leathern gear
All packed upon the patient steer.
'Mid all his wanderings hating toil,
He never tills the stubborn soil;
But on the milky dam relies,
And what spontaneous earth supplies.
Or, should long-parching droughts prevail,
And milk, and bulbs, and locusts fail,
He lays him down to sleep away
In languid trance the weary day;
Oft as he feels gaunt hunger's stound,
Still tightening famine's girdle round;
Lulled by the sound of the Gareep,
Beneath the willows murmuring deep:

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Song of the Wild Bushman

Let the proud White Man boast his flocks,
And fields of foodful grain;
My home is 'mid the mountain rocks,
The Desert my domain.
I plant no herbs nor pleasant fruits,
I toil not for my cheer;
The Desert yields me juicy roots,
And herds of bounding deer.

The countless springboks are my flock,
Spread o'er the unbounded plain;
The buffalo bendeth to my yoke,
The wild-horse to my rein;
My yoke is the quivering assagai,
My rein the tough bow-string;
My bridle curb is a slender barb --
Yet it quells the forest-king.

The crested adder honoureth me,
And yields at my command

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The Caffer Commando

Hark! -- heard ye the signals of triumph afar?
'Tis our Caffer Commando returning from war:
The voice of their laughter comes loud on the wind,
Nor heed they the curses that follow behind.
For who cares for him, the poor Kosa, that wails
Where the smoke rises dim from yon desolate vales --
That wails for his little ones killed in the fray,
And his herds by the Colonist carried away?
Or who cares for him that once pastured this spot,
Where his tribe is extinct and their story forgot?
As many another, ere twenty years pass,
Will only be known by their bones in the grass!
And the sons of the Keisi, the Kei, the Gareep,
With the Gunja and Ghona in silence shall sleep:
For England hath spoken in her tyrannous mood,
And the edict is writing in African blood!

Dark Katta is howling: the eager jackall,
As the lengthening shadows more drearily fall,
Shrieks forth his hymn to the hornèd moon;

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Makanna's Gathering

Wake! Amakósa, wake!
And arm yourselves for war.
As coming winds the forest shake,
I hear a sound from far:
It is not thunder in the sky,
Nor lion's roar upon the hill,
But the voice of HIM who sits on high,
And bids me speak his will!

He bids me call you forth,
Bold sons of Káhabee,
To sweep the White Men from the earth,
And drive them to the sea:
The sea, which heaved them up at first,
For Amakósa's curse and bane,
Howls for the progeny she nurst,
To swallow them again.

Hark! 'tis UHLANGA'S voice
From Debè's mountain caves!

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The Slave Dealer

From ocean's wave a Wanderer came,
With visage tanned and dun:
His Mother, when he told his name,
Scarce knew her long-lost son;
So altered was his face and frame
By the ill course he had run.

There was hot fever in his blood,
And dark thoughts in his brain;
And oh! to turn his heart to good
That Mother strove in vain,
For fierce and fearful was his mood,
Racked by remorse and pain.

And if, at times, a gleam more mild
Would o'er his features stray,
When knelt the Widow near her Child,
And he tried with her to pray,
It lasted not for visions wild
Still scared good thoughts away.

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