George MacDonald

A Memorial of Africa


Upon a rock I sat--a mountain-side,
Far, far forsaken of the old sea's lip;
A rock where ancient waters' rise and dip,
Recoil and plunge, eddy, and oscillant tide,
Had worn and worn, while races lived and died,
Involved channels. Where the sea-weed's drip
Followed the ebb, now crumbling lichens sip
Sparse dews of heaven that down with sunset slide.
I sat long-gazing southward. A dry flow
Of withering wind sucked up my drooping strength,
Itself weak from the desert's burning length.
Behind me piled, away and up did go
Great sweeps of savage mountains--up, away,
Where snow gleams ever, panthers roam, they say.


This infant world has taken long to make,
Nor hast Thou done with it, but mak'st it yet,
And wilt be working on when death has set
A new mound in some churchyard for my sake.
On flow the centuries without a break;
Uprise the mountains, ages without let;
The lichens suck; the hard rock's breast they fret;
Years more than past, the young earth yet will take.
But in the dumbness of the rolling time,
No veil of silence shall encompass me--
Thou wilt not once forget and let me be;
Rather wouldst thou some old chaotic prime
Invade, and, moved by tenderness sublime,
Unfold a world, that I, thy child, might see.

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