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Musings in Maoriland

David Livingstone

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David Livingstone.

Down many a giant stream, whose place of birth
  Lies hidden in the distance from our ken,
And from the nooks and corners of the earth,
  Where darkness shrouds the souls of savage men,

A dirge steals softly on the breath of night,
  Which tells us of a noble spirit fled
To find the mystic source of truth and light,
  And read the book that mortals have not read.

Where shall we meet with courage true and grand
  As that which stayed the brave old wanderer's heart?
Home, pleasure, friendship, love, and native land
  He left, to trace the world's mysterious chart.

page 310

Adown the valleys where Zambesi runs—
  Along the Nile, and by Nyassa's lake,
To Earth's degraded and benighted sons
  He brought the peaceful words which Jesus spake.

The tameless Berber reins his steed to gaze
  With wondering pity on that tranquil face;
The grateful Ethiopian chants the praise
  Of him who brought "glad tidings" to his race.

When Livingstone is named, what fool shall dare
  To boast of war's red tyrants, robed in blood,
Who sacrifice their serfs for vultures' fare,
  Who call it glory, to give ravens food?

When battle trumpets sound, and banners stream,
  The mad blood flies to the enthusiast's brain,
And where the war drums roll, and sabres gleam,
  His fiery spirit seeks the purple plain.

The yeoman, fenced within his narrow home,
  Bursts the old links and seeks for freer skies;
Nor fears to cross the ever-shifting foam,
  Hope tells his heart he goes to win a prize

page 311

But this great man left all wealth's gifts behind—
  Ease could not bind him to his native shore;
His bosom glowed to benefit his kind,
  To bear off knowledge and return with more.

He marched through trackless wilds and deserts drear,
  Although Death's footsteps dogged his every pace;
The cause he lived for shielded him 'gainst fear,
  His soul could meet the Spectre face to face.

Array the Monarch's dust in pomp and pride,
  Whilst flatterers his doubtful virtues sing:
A grander death this great old victor died
  Than England's boldest Duke or bravest King.

No cultivated sigh, nor polished tear
  Bedecks the couch whereon the hero sleeps;
A purer tribute falls upon his bier,
  For lo! above his corse the savage weeps.