In far 'Mid-Africa, where woods
Illimitable weave their gloom,
Where the palmyra lifts its crown
Of verdure and its flowery plume,
Mimosas yield their honey'd food,
And mopan and mowana wood
Mingle their interlacing screen,
And chief, the acacias, tender-leav'd,
Flutter their pennoncelles of green--
There fleet and far, secure in shade,
The giant camelopards rove;
Stupendous monarchs of the glade,
The stateliest denizons of the grove.
Oft they forsake their woody haunt
For open lawn and grassy slope,
Vast level plains, the water-shed
Of streams, where flocks of antelope
Rival in speed the giraffe herd,
Each fleeter than the skimming bird.
An English hunter thus relates
How first the noble game he knew,
Leading his savage cavalcade
Of Hottentots, a motley crew.
When first the apparation grand
Of the tall beast before him rose,
He deem'd it spiky, wither'd branch
Of palm that in the desert grows;
But soon the object, gliding fast
Above the topmost shrubbery,
Like spiring shaft of plumy pine,
Told that the long-sought prey was nigh.
He spurr'd in chase; before him sped,
With clumsy gait but matchless speed,
The giraffe, with its black tail curv'd,
Outstripping the pursuing steed.
He flew--he sail'd, like gliding ship,
Swift by the gale o'er surges roll'd.
With swanlike neck and sloping side,
That in the sunbeam gleam'd like gold.
Stretching away with mighty stride
O'er treacherous swamp and rotten soil,
Where grass and tangled vines conceal'd
The gaping fissure with their coil,
Headlong and frantic thro' the wood
Thunder pursuer and pursued.
Twice was the towering form conceal'd
By bark of intervening trees,
And twice from out the labyrinth
The toiling, lumbering game he sees;
Now tilting over eminence,
Topping the ridge with gallant stride;
Now plung'd in hollows of the plain,
Whose dipping slopes the quarry hide.
At length, a shallow stream is reach'd.
Whose sands its spider-legs delay,
And here the foaming steed hath brought
His rider even with the prey;
Then the big rifle is uprais'd
Against the dappled creature's side.
A shot--a groan--and headlong falls
The giraffe, red with slaughter dy'd.