Page:A Treasury of South African Poetry.djvu/257

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231
J. R.

And many tales of torture and of death were that night told
By men whose hearts beat hotly with the hates they learnt of old.
Then as the sun rose higher, during many a long, long day,
They crawled along a coast that never tempted them to stay,—
Where sandy shores lay bleaching, stark, beneath a fervid sky;
Where burnished seas, unruffled, but racked the aching eye;
Where rivers, wide and torpid, crept through banks of forest gloom,
And breathed across the tainted beach the vapours of the tomb;
Where, under Palma's lofty steep, the rock-thrown shadows rest;
Or where Biafra's friendly bight bends to the mystic west;
All down those links of sullen capes; all down that stricken strand,
Where Nature stood with callous front and man with hostile hand;
With bodies never weary, and with spirits never faint,
They sped all trustful in the care of Heaven and guardian saint.
Oh! how these sailors' simple hearts with pious hope beat high
When first they saw the sacred Cross hung in the southern sky;
And soon the gladdening tidings had leapt from lip to lip,