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Afar in the Desert

Pringle, Thomas (1789 - 1834)
1Afar in the Desert I love to ride,
2With the silent Bush-boy alone by my side:
3When the sorrows of life the soul o'ercast,
4And, sick of the Present, I cling to the Past;
5When the eye is suffused with regretful tears,
6From the fond recollections of former years;
7And shadows of things that have long since fled
8Flit over the brain, like the ghosts of the dead:
9Bright visions of glory -- that vanish too soon;
10Day-dreams -- that departed ere manhood's noon;
11Attachments -- by fate or by falsehood reft;
12Companions of early days -- lost or left;
13And my Native Land -- whose magical name
14Thrills to the heart like electric flame;
15The home of my childhood; the haunts of my prime;
16All the passions and scenes of that rapturous time
17When the feelings were young and the world was new,
18Like the fresh bowers of Eden unfolding to view;
19All -- all now forsaken -- forgotten -- foregone!
20And I -- a lone exile remembered of none --
21My high aims abandoned, -- my good acts undone, --
22-- Aweary of all that is under the sun, --
23With that sadness of heart which no stranger may scan,
24I fly to the Desert afar from man!
25Afar in the Desert I love to ride,
26With the silent Bush-boy alone by my side:
27When the wild turmoil of this wearisome life,
28With its scenes of oppression, corruption, and strife --
29The proud man's frown, and the base man's fear, --
30The scorner's laugh, and the sufferer's tear --
31And malice, and meanness, and falsehood, and folly,
32Dispose me to musing and dark melancholy;
33When my bosom is full, and my thoughts are high,
34And my soul is sick with the bondman's sigh --
35Oh! then there is freedom, and joy, and pride,
36Afar in the Desert alone to ride!
37There is rapture to vault on the champing steed,
38And to bound away with the eagle's speed,
39With the death-fraught firelock in my hand --
40The only law of the Desert Land!
41Afar in the Desert I love to ride,
42With the silent Bush-boy alone by my side:
43Away -- away from the dwellings of men,
44By the wild deer's haunt, by the buffalo's glen;
45By valleys remote where the oribi plays,
46Where the gnu, the gazelle, and the hartèbeest graze,
47And the kùdù and eland unhunted recline
48By the skirts of grey forests o'erhung with wild-vine;
49Where the elephant browses at peace in his wood,
50And the river-horse gambols unscared in the flood,
51And the mighty rhinoceros wallows at will
52In the fen where the wild-ass is drinking his fill.
53Afar in the Desert I love to ride,
54With the silent Bush-boy alone by my side:
55O'er the brown Karroo, where the bleating cry
56Of the springbok's fawn sounds plaintively;
57And the timorous quagga's shrill whistling neigh

nor herb. 83Where sedgy pool. . 60With wild hoof scouring the desolate plain. 29] Perhaps an allusion to Hamlet's "To be or not to be" soliloquy in Shakespeare's tragedy of the same name.MAN IS DISTANT. wrath. nor shrub takes root. 45] oribi: small dark brown antelope (a Hottentot name).58Is heard by the fountain at twilight grey. now to this group and now to that -." QBSAL 6.. "Bibliography of Thomas Pringle's `Afar in the Desert. 89And here. 93'A still small voice' comes through the wild 94(Like a Father consoling his fretful Child). 76With the twilight bat from the yawning stone. With the omission of about four or a t the utmost six lines I do not hesitate to declare it. Robinson. 88Spread -. Ernest Pereira and Michael Chapman [Durban: University of Nat al Press. 90And the stars burn bright in the midnight sky. 85Appears. ed. while the night-winds round me sigh. where no river glides.away -.and since that time have either written or caused to b e written. that for some days I did little else but read and recite your poem. and fear. 79And the bitter-melon. round and round. 68With the silent Bush-boy alone by my side: 69Away -. at least half a dozen copies . for food and drink. nor cloud. 1989]: 79-80). among the two or three m ost perfect lyric Poems in our Language" (Earl Leslie Griggs. 70Where the White Man's foot hath never passed. and the burning sky. 63Hying away to the home of her rest. 77Where grass.. nor bubbling fount. 84Nor tree. 1828. quoted in African Poems of T homas Pringle.1 [Sept. howling and drear. 59Where the zebra wantonly tosses his mane. 92Like Elijah at Horeb's cave alone. 2] Bush-boy: Dutch term for native living in the wilderness. For the different versions of this poem.'" Papers of the Bibliographical Society of America 17. see George W. 64Where she and her mate have scooped their the Wilderness vast. 91As I sit apart by the desert stone. nor misty mount. 82Nor rippling brook with osiered sides. 80Is the pilgrim's fare by the salt lake's brink: 81A region of drought.1 (1923). 1951]. to refresh the aching eye: 86But the barren earth. 74Which Man hath abandoned from famine and fear.void of living sight or sound. "Samuel Taylor Col eridge and Thomas Pringle. 78Save poisonous thorns that pierce the foot. 61And the fleet-footed ostrich over the waste 62Speeds like a horseman who travels in haste. 65Far hid from the pitiless plunderer's view 66In the pathless depths of the parched Karroo. that he encountered this poem in Thompson's Travels and "was taken so compleatly possession of [it]. -- 96Saying -. 67Afar in the Desert I love to ride. BUT GOD IS NEAR! Notes 1] Samuel Taylor Coleridge wrote to Pringle on March 20. 71And the quivered Coránna or Bechuán 72Hath rarely crossed with his roving clan: 73A region of emptiness. 95Which banishes bitterness. 87And the black horizon. 75Which the snake and the lizard inhabit alone.

a type of willow tree (Salix viminalis). especially 11-13. 50 3). about three hundred miles in length. p. a species of Coloquintida . and a great and strongwind rent the mountains. p . so that the Bechuanas and Cor annas in crossing it are forcedto subsist on a species of wild water-melon . exterminated about 1873. north of the Orange River. 71] Coránna: or Bechuán: "The Corannas. 92] Elijah at Horeb's cave: a Biblical story told in 1 Kings 19. the water is exhaled. called by the Hottentots Kanna" (Pringle's note. and the dry crystallized saltremains. 82] osiered: covered with osiers.2 (March-April 1824): 105. p. he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. Antilope euchore.46] gnu: wildebeest. who came and told him to stand on the mountain top. and after the win d an earthquake. 80] salt-lake: ". and after the earthquak e a fire. and after the fire a still small voi ce. 503). George Thompson. an antelope resembling an ox. And behold. ed. and by the Zwartberg. 501). and broke in piece s the rocks before the Lord. and lying between the countries of the Bechuanas and Damards. a Bantu language" (OED). 56] springbok: "A species of antelope. inhabiting the banks of the Gareep. speaking Tswana (formerl y called Sechuana). Pringle's note. E lijah journeyed forty days and nights in the wilderness to reach Horeb. p. p. in the bosom of the dry parched land" (Pringle's note."The cry of the Quagga (pronounced quaha. cf.. characterized by a habit of springingalmost directly upwards when excited or dis turbed" (OED). but lessfully striped than the latter" (OED). or any other of the smaller antelopes" (Pringle's not e. by from seventy to eighty in breadth. the Bechuana are a peaceful native tribe "people inhabiting the country be tween the Orange and Zambezi rivers in Southern Africa. and s aid. the Reebok. "And behold. 47] kùdù: "Koodoo. (Antilope Strepsiceros)" (Pringle's note. 504).. p. p. are a tribe of independent H ottentots. but the Lord was not in the fire. 502). bounded by the Sneeuwberg and Nieuwveld ridges of mountains on the north. related t o the ass and zebra.. gazelle: " . Elijah?'" Publication Start Year: 1824 Publication Notes: South African Journal 1. 55] Karroo: "an arid desert. 502).. Forbes (Cape Town: Van Riebeeck Soc . 50 2). or Koraquas. Koras. Travels and Adventures in Southern Africa. whit e as a frozen lake. there came a voice to him. is said to be for the most part entirely destitute of water. bitter and pungent to the taste" (Pringle's note. on the south" (Prin gle's note.. 502).. but the Lord was not in the wind. abounding in South Africa. or Great Orange River" (Pringle.. p.. hartèbeest: an antelope (Alcephalus caama. 503). 69] Wilderness vast: "The Desert of Kalleghanny or Challahenagh. the L ord passed by. 50] river-horse: hippopotamus. or quacha) is very differen t from that of either the horse or ass" (Pringle's note. the moun t of God. eland: "(Antilope Oreas). Vernon S. `What are you doing here. And when Elijah heard it. or Black Mountain ridge. 57] quagga: "South African equine quadruped (Equus or Hippotigris Quagga). but the Lord was not in the earthquake.

DT 756 . DT 756 . Also London: H.iety.T47 1967.T47 1827A Robarts Library . Colburn. 1967): II. 1827. 17-19.