The Coranna

Original Text: 
Thomas Pringle, African Sketches (London: Edward Moxon, 1834): 16-17. 010097.e.63 British Library
1Fast by his wild resounding River
3Still drives his heifers forth to feed,
5A rover still unchecked will range,
6As humour calls, or seasons change;
7His tent of mats and leathern gear
8All packed upon the patient steer.
9'Mid all his wanderings hating toil,
10He never tills the stubborn soil;
11But on the milky dam relies,
12And what spontaneous earth supplies.
13Or, should long-parching droughts prevail,
14And milk, and bulbs, and locusts fail,
15He lays him down to sleep away
16In languid trance the weary day;
17Oft as he feels gaunt hunger's stound,
19Lulled by the sound of the Gareep,
20Beneath the willows murmuring deep:
21Till thunder-clouds, surcharged with rain,
22Pour verdure o'er the panting plain;
23And call the famished Dreamer from his trance,
24To feast on milk and game, and wake the moon-light dance.


2] Coran: "The Corannas, Koras, or Koraquas, are a tribe of independent Hottentots, inhabiting the banks of the Gareep, or Great Orange River. They are naturally a mild, indolent, pastoral people, subsisting chiefly on the milk of their goats and cows, and by occasional hunting .... not a few of the Corannas have recently become bands of robbers; and in conjunction with Bergenaars and other banditti have committed many deplorable ravages upon the Bechuana tribes, and sometimes on the Colony" (Pringle's note, p. 504). Back to Line
4] gorrah: "... one of the few rude musical instruments peculiar to the Hottentot race .... It consists merely of a slender stick, or bow,on which a string of catgut is strained. But to the lower end of this string, a flat piece, of about an inch and a half long, of the quill of an ostrich, is attached .... This quill, being applied to the lips, is made to vibrate" (Pringle's note, pp. 504-05). Back to Line
18] famine's girdle: "In seasons of long continued drought, the Corannas are occasionally reduced to extreme destitution; and are then forced, like the Bushmen, to subsist on wild roots, ants, and locusts. On such occasions, they are accustomed to wear a leathern band bound tightly around their middle, which they term `the girdle of famine'" (Pringle's note, p. 505). Back to Line
Publication Start Year: 
Publication Notes: 
See "The Koranna," George Thompson, Travels and Adventures in Southern Africa, ed. Vernon S. Forbes (Cape Town: Van Riebeeck Society, 1967): I, 123. DT 756 .T47 1967. Also London: H. Colburn, 1827. DT 756 .T47 1827A Robarts Library
RPO poem Editors: 
Ian Lancashire
RPO Edition: 
RPO 2000.