Enchanting scenes o'er Afric's mystic land
Since the creation's dawn have bloom'd and smil'd
In lavish beauty. And the varied forms
Of Nature, fresh from the Creator's hand,
Here intermingle their transcendent pomp--
Soft vale, and placid stream, and mountain range.
Here glows the flowery plain, or frowns the waste;
Here flow majestic rivers to the sea,
Or spread the mirror'd lakes their grassy plain--
Vast lakes, whose marge by savage herds is trod,
Whose waves are only cross'd by rude canoe,
Or haunted by the screaming waterfowl.
Here desert moors extend their arid waste,
Here mountains soar in grandeur to the skies,
Forests immense, illimitable, spread,
Fair flowering groves and natural gardens bloom.
The wandering exile from far Northern shores
Crossing those lakes, oft drops the idle oar
To view the wondrous scene: far, far extends
The reedy shore with endless meadows hemm'd
Or fring'd with woods of tamarind and palm,
The green mazouka with its clustering fruits,
Or the dark mola with its oak-like crown.
Charm'd with this vision, Eden-like, his soul
Drinks in th' entrancing splendors of the scene.
Far spread the shores, now rough with beetling rocks,
Now smooth with waving grass and rosy blooms.
Far stretch the lakes undimpled in their sheet,
While far in distance float the mountains blue.
Here a white sand-beach spreads its shelly road,
Backed by the cocoa-palm trees, and the huts
Of villagers in green plantations hid.
Above some granite cliff the eagle swings,
And fish-hawks clamor; and in groves around,
Where the oil-palms their yellow nuts display,
Cooes the green pigeon, chattering squirrels leap,
The gay-hued parrots glance like living flames,
And the red trogon tunes his thrilling lyre.
Around the shores the sacred ibis flits,
The snowy pelicans their files extend,
The stilted avoset that wades the shoals,
The parva perch'd on floating lotus-leaves,
The black geese and the gray-hued spoonbill tribes,
And all the gorgeous fowl that haunt the wave;
While in the thicket or encircling wood
The guinea-fowl monotonous complains,
The francolin calls ceaseless to his mate;
From tree to tree the keen-ey'd buffalo-bird
Twitters and sings, and kalas pour their songs.
Fair scenes along the Balaklai land
Perennial bloom; green flower-enamell'd lawns
Slope to the brimming river's grassy edge;
And pastures broad to th' horizon's verge
Stretch boundless, sprinkled here and there with groves.
Embosom'd 'mid plantations of the maize,
The yam and manioc, nestling in the shade
Of cashew and the fig, guavas brown,
And green bananas, lie the villages,
Wattled with bamboo, thatch'd with broad-leav'd palm.
Rich are the fruits of tree and shrub and root
That prodigal Nature yields this savage land:
The baobob casts its luscious treasures down,
The tall mashouka drops its pear-like fruit,
Harsh with its rind, delicious with its seed;
The rough pineapple and the tamarind sharp
Shower their offerings, and the cocoa-palm
Swings high its husked nuts, so honey-sweet;
Mazoukas and molondos yield their gifts,
And motsouri, and grateful mamosho;
The maniko its sugary syrup pours,
And chief the motsikiri, prince of trees,
Hangs high in air its gay, imperial crown!