Louisa Stuart Costello
The Traveller In Africa - Poem by Louisa Stuart Costello
A Dramatic Sketch
A Forest. Night.
Alone, amidst the interminable forest!—
Where shall I seek for aid! my weary limbs,
Torn by the briars, and wasted with fatigue,
Refuse to bear me further.
Black, rayless, midnight reigns; and the thick dew
Distils its baleful drops upon my head.
And, hark! the topmost branches of the trees,
With dismal moan, now louder and more near,
Shake in the rushing wind! It comes, it comes!—
The dread tornado!—is there no escape!—
What howl is that, which echoes from afar?
The frightful yell comes nearer——
No friendly torch, no watchfire near, to keep
The savage foe at bay!—my cries alone,
My frantic cries of agony, have power
To scare the fell hyena from his prey!
The torrent sweeps along—a swelling river
Rolls, dashes at my feet! I dare not climb
Yon palm for safety, lest the huge black ants
Fix on and sting me into madness. Ha!
That crash has fell'd the loftiest of the wood,
The stately cotton-tree, that could withstand
A thousand storms;—whose high, projecting stems,
Twisting in many folds impenetrable,
Twin'd with convoluvi and parasites,
Spread their broad barrier, and forbade approach.
'Tis fallen now—its purple blossoms crush'd—
And that stupendous form, which once could yield
A fainting army shelter, is laid low.
I dare not linger—yet I fear to fly.—
I hear the human-monster's piercing howl,
The fierce Ingrena, sporting with the storm,
Like its presiding demon. He approaches—
And, as he comes, he tears the branches down,
And arms himself for slaughter. I am lost!
His wild eyes see me by the lightning's flash—
One moment, and I perish!—Oh, no! no!
That desp'rate leap has saved me, and the coil
Of the huge Boa holds my shrieking foe!
A thousand deaths surround me—and I yield.—
No more at eve, beneath the ganian's shade,
My brave companions, shall we meet, to tell
Of toils and dangers past: no more recall
The lovely verdure of our native vales,
When, listening to the crown-bird's cheerful note,
So like our own wild wand'ring bird of spring,
That fancy gives us back our homes again.
My lov'd, lost home!—and must I perish here!—
Oh! were I now amidst the burning sands,
So the bright sun once more might shine on me,
Although in all his scorching fierceness, yet
There might be hope I should escape his beams;
Or, were I on the brink of some broad river,
Where the gaunt crocodile pursued my steps,
So I had light to view mine enemy,
There might be some hope: but here no light can come!
Bears shouts upon its wings—new terrors still
Come thronging to o'erwhelm me! Gracious Heaven!
Those well-known sounds, those voices! and my name
Echoing through all the forest!—I am saved!—
Here, here, my friends! rush onward, ye are come
In time to see me die!
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