African Tales – And now for something completely different

March 3 – Back in my younger days, I wrote the following about my adopted homeland of Africa. It’s not the normal blog material, but I hope you enjoy it.

African Dreams

When the cold, pale stars are waning
And the nightly hunt is done,
And nocturnal things are homing,
Seeking refuge from the sun,
When the paling east betokens
The near breaking of the dawn,
There is joy among the hunted
That the shades of night have gone.

In the hours before the sunrise,
‘Ere the morning mists have fled,
While the zephyrs still are planning
For a busy day ahead,
There’s a pause for meditation
And through the calm, cool air
Come the muted, happy voices
Of the feathered folk in prayer.

Then the sun in benediction
Peeping o’er the eastern rim,
Sheds his warm and welcome blessing
Over all who wait for him.
Yet, like a tyrant who doth know
Firm and sure he holdeth sway,
Fiercer and fiercer does he strike
The blistered back of Day.

On the hot and thirsting meadows
Where white butterflies flit by,
With the dancing, quiv’ring heat-waves,
Silver dots against blue sky,
On the parched and sandy cornfields
With their wilting stands of corn,
On the verdant, boggy marshlands
Where the little streams are born,
Drinking, drawing up the moisture
That his cloudlings in the sky
Might, like fat and lazy lambkins
Float complacently on high,
Beats the sun, while on his orbit
He climbs up towards high noon.

Silence reigns throughout the woodland
Save the ceaseless, strident tune
Of the vast cicada army
In the gaunt Mopani trees,
And the startling snap of seed-pods
Flinging seeds into the breeze.
‘Tis the hour of the siesta
When the whole land seems asleep,
When the crystal sand is burning,
And the pools lie still and deep.

On the rounded granite boulders
Where the dassies sit and sun,
And the shadow of the kestrel
Frights the lizards as they run,
Where the paper trees are rustling
And the shaggy aloes grow,
Where the clinging, coloured lichens
In the sunlight are aglow,
Where the flaming sunset beckons,
When the slanting rays of light
Are stealing through the caverns,
Seeking shelter from the night,
A peaceful calm comes creeping
Through the purple after-glow,
And the birdlets cease their calling
And the wind sighs soft and low.

Bright upon the far horizon
Slow uplifts the silver moon,
And the wildlings greet her radiance
With murmurings soft, and soon
A pulsing insect chorus
With notes so shrill and high,
Wafts up a song of gladness
Into the star-filled sky.

What does she see as she wanders
In her path across the sky,
Casting frail petals of moon-beams,
Watching them fade and die,
Yet knowing the spell she’s weaving,
The spell of the Afric night
Will hold and entrance her watchers
When she has faded from sight?

Wild and beautiful lies the land
Transformed by the silver glow,
Each grass-blade sparkles with dew-drops,
The rivers with silver flow.
Beautiful, beautiful moonlight,
Reality changes to dreams.
Dark Africa lies a-dreaming
Bathed in your glorious beams.

Death and destruction are lurking,
And misery, pain and fear.
The sad death wail and yearning drum
Fall harsh on the list’ning ear,
But the spell the moon has woven,
And sprinkled with silver gleams,
Transforms all things to beauty,
While Africa lies and dreams.


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