Cicely Fox Smith
South Africa - 1899 - Poem by Cicely Fox Smith
Throned like an empress on the south-most height,
Keen, clear and brave, her eyes gaze northward far
To where, still foremost in the endless fight,
Restless and swift and strong, her English are.
Gladly she gives, by manlike men possessed,
Her long-stored wealth of teeming reef and fold,
Pouring against the portals of the West
From open hands, largess of fleece and gold.
Long, long she slept, with idle, nerveless hands,
Dreaming strange dreams beside her unploughed deep,
Till the strong wanders out of alien lands
Beheld her wealth afar, and broke her sleep.
Still men from far off, as in days of old,
Flock swiftly to the splendour of the spoil,
Building great nations on a base of gold,
Sorrow and joy, success and fruitless toil.
Strengthened with blood and wealth of former time,
Stalwart and swift her wakened steps go forth, -
The beauty and the bounty of her clime
Made fruitful by the vigour of the North.
Her hair is twined with gems; her old-time lords
Toil 'mid the wealth they passed unheeding by:
Her hand is on the key whose twisted wards
Unlock the secret of her destiny.
Wounded in furious conflict oft and sore
By those fierce children of the younger days,
Her hands must battle for her own once more,
Nor yet may rest beside her hard-won bays.
With fearless feet, and brave eyes blind with tears,
She treads the path to conquest; far away
The promise of the unrecorded years
Breaks like red dawn across her clouded day.
Behold the queenly head serenely rise
That storm and stress have not availed to bow;
The splendour of the sunlight in her eyes,
The glory of the morning on her brow.
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