Cicely Fox Smith
Man The Conqueror - Poem by Cicely Fox Smith
To the home of primal Nature, to her woodlands wild and bright,
Came a race of alien folk,
And the virgin forests echoed from day-dawn to the night
With the ringing axe's stroke.
Long they toiled, with weary labour, - cleft a pathway clear and wide
Thro' the forests fever-fraught;
And the Jungle-Spirit whispered:
'Would they thrust my bars aside?
I will make them toil as nought.'
To the dwindled torrent came they, where the stream slept dull and dead
That had leapt the banks last year:
And for long they toiled unceasing in the sluggish river's bed,
Drove the pile and laid the pier.
And the drowsy River-Spirit reared his dripping lily-crown,
Laughing loud in scornful glee:
'Would they yoke me? Would they bind me? Wait until the flood comes down,
I will sweep them out to sea!'
To the bison's proudest pasture, where the four winds wander free,
Came the busy toilers forth:
And they cleft it with their highway far as eye of man could see,
From the South unto the North.
And the monarch of the bison shook the splendour of his mane,
Looked, and lowed in utter scorn:
And he spake: 'A little longer! We will sweep them from the plain,
With the might of hoof and horn!'
But in vain the creeping jungle flings her arms across the way,
And the full flood-torrent roars;
For there comes a Lord of Conquest and a mightier one than they,
Brought afar from alien shores.
And the bison plunge in panic from the ringing road of steel,
And the light along the sky,
Where the cleft air shrieks and flickers, and the blind stars swim and reel,
As the engines thunder by!
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