Home  »  Poems of Places An Anthology in 31 Volumes  »  Under the Palm-Trees

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
Africa: Vol. XXIV. 1876–79.

Introductory to Africa

Under the Palm-Trees

By Ferdinand Freiligrath (1810–1876)

Translated by C. Boner

MANES are fluttering through the bushes; deadly strife is in the wood:

Hear’st thou not the roar and stamping from yon palm-grove’s neighborhood?

Climb with me upon the teak-tree! Gently, lest thy quiver’s rattle

Should disturb them! Look, the tiger and the leopard meet in battle!

For the body of the white man, whom the tiger did surprise

Sleeping mid the crimson flowers on this slope of many dyes,—

For the stranger, three moons nearly our tent’s guest, us oft inviting

With him plants to seek and chafers,—the pied monsters now are fighting.

Woe! no arrow more can save him! Closed already is his eye!

Red his temples as the blossoms of the thistle waving nigh;

As within a bloody basin, where the mound is slightly dinted,

Lies he; and his cheek is deeply with the tiger’s claw imprinted.

Woe, white man! on thee thy mother nevermore shall glad her eyes!—

Foaming at the mouth, the leopard on the raging tiger flies;

But his left paw he reposes on the body to be rended,

And the right one, high uplifted, threatening to the foe is wended.

What a bound! Look, look, the leaper grips the dead man by the arm!

But the other holds his booty; dragging it he flies from harm.

On their hind legs fight they; wildly each upon the other gazing,

As they rear, the livid body stark upright between them raising.

Then,—O look! above them something gliding from the branches hangs,

Greenly shining, jaws all open, poisonous slime upon its fangs!

Giant serpent! thou the booty leav’st to neither forest-ranger!

Thou entwinest, thou dost crush them,—tiger, leopard, and pale stranger!