YOU say we bushmen cannot love—|
Our lives are too prosaic: hence
We lose or lack that finer sense
That raises some few men above
Their fellows, setting them apart
As vessels of a finer make—
The acme of the potter’s art—
Are placed apart upon the shelf.
So he is more than common delf,
And, more than brute in human guise,
Who, seeking, finds his nobler self
Twin-mirrored in a woman’s eyes!
Yet these things bring their penalty:
For oft the merest touch will break
These vessels of a finer make;
And throats attuned to noblest key
A draught of air will set awry,
And stifle in an ulcerous sore
The voice that floated to the sky
And silence it for evermore . . .
You say we bushmen cannot love—
That, like our foe, the fire-fiend,
We blaze, until a river-bend—
Nay, less, a pebble-graven groove
Where waters thread—doth bid us stay:
Our passions for a month, a week
Flare out and then they die away—
For separation, like the creek
That stays the bush fire, bars the way.
You say we bushmen cannot love.
Well, have it so! but this I swear—
That she possessed a power to move
The dullest boor to do or dare.
But I, as being somewhat shy,
Became the target for her wit . . .
How oft in wantonness she’d pit
The blazing lances of her eye
And keener rapier of her tongue,
That carelessly made lightning play,
Until to action I was stung,
And, like a dumb beast, stood at bay . . .