The Caffer

Original Text: 
Thomas Pringle, African Sketches (London: Edward Moxon, 1834): 102. 010097.e.63 British Library
2Eyeing the farmer's lowing herds afar;
4Lead forth the Twilight dim, that he may glide
5Like panther to the prey. With freeborn pride
6He scorns the herdsman, nor regards the scar
7Of recent wound -- but burnishes for war
9He is a Robber? -- True; it is a strife
10Between the black-skinned bandit and the white.
11A Savage? -- Yes; though loth to aim at life,
12Evil for evil fierce he doth requite.
13A Heathen? -- Teach him, then, thy better creed,
14Christian! if thou deserv'st that name indeed.


1] Caffer: caffre, "member of a South African race of Blacks belonging to the great Bantu family, and living in the north-east of the Republic of South Africa, in an area formerly known as Caffraria or Caffre-land" (OED "caffre," 2). The term is Arabic kafir, `infidel.'
cleugh: Scots term for a rocky, steep ravine. Back to Line
3] Evening Star: Venus. Back to Line
8] assagai: light native javelin or lance. Back to Line
Publication Start Year: 
Publication Notes: 
See George Thompson, Travels and Adventures in Southern Africa, ed. Vernon S. Forbes (Cape Town: Van Riebeeck Society, 1967): I, 168. DT 756 .T47 1967. Also London: H. Colburn, 1827. DT 756 .T47 1827A Robarts Library
RPO poem Editors: 
Ian Lancashire
RPO Edition: 
RPO 2000.