R. A. Nelson

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Sunrise on the Veld

(Outside Johannesburg)

Across the far-stretched carpet of bronze-green,
Veined with red paths, rough-traced by foot and tyre,
From out the kopjes break night's funeral pyre;
And slowly, as it kindles, the wide scene
Is pierced with golden searchlights, and through screen
Of mystic ambient starts each thin black spire,
Whose inky, curléd pennants, from the fire
Of the gold-seeker, blur the morning sheen.

Ghost-white the mounds of cyanide appear,
Like phantom hills; the Kafir on the plain,
In blanket wrapped, stares mutely as his ear
Catches the rumble of the winding train,
The moan of bullocks, creak of wagon strain,
Then, maddening shriek of siren--day is here.