Song of the Wild Bushman

Original Text: 
Thomas Pringle, African Sketches (London: Edward Moxon, 1834): 14-15. 010097.e.63 British Library
2    And fields of foodful grain;
3My home is 'mid the mountain rocks,
4    The Desert my domain.
5I plant no herbs nor pleasant fruits,
6    I toil not for my cheer;
7The Desert yields me juicy roots,
8    And herds of bounding deer.
10    Spread o'er the unbounded plain;
11The buffalo bendeth to my yoke,
14    My rein the tough bow-string;
15My bridle curb is a slender barb --
16    Yet it quells the forest-king.
17The crested adder honoureth me,
18    And yields at my command
19His poison-bag, like the honey-bee,
20    When I seize him on the sand.
21Yea, even the wasting locusts' swarm,
22    Which mighty nations dread,
23To me nor terror brings nor harm --
25Thus I am lord of the Desert Land,
26    And I will not leave my bounds,
28    And kennel with his hounds:
29To be a hound, and watch the flocks,
30    For the cruel White Man's gain --
31No! the brown Serpent of the Rocks
32    His den doth yet retain;
33And none who there his sting provokes,
34    Shall find its poison vain!


1] bushman: Dutch term for natives living in the wilderness. Back to Line
9] springboks: "A species of antelope, Antilope euchore, abounding in South Africa, characterized by a habit of springing almost directly upwards when excited or disturbed" (OED). Back to Line
12] wild-horse: the zebra. Back to Line
13] assagai: light native javelin or lance. Back to Line
24] "`The Bushmen,' says Captain Stockenstrom, `consider the locusts a great luxury, consuming great quantities fresh, and drying abundance for future emergencies'" (Pringle's note, p. 504). Back to Line
27] Christian's hand: that of the Dutch colonists, the boers. Back to Line
Publication Start Year: 
Publication Notes: 
South African Commercial Advertiser (Sept. 21, 1825).
RPO poem Editors: 
Ian Lancashire
RPO Edition: 
RPO 2000.