Verse > Anthologies > Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. > Poems of Places > Africa
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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed.  Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
Africa: Vol. XXIV.  1876–79.
 
Central and Southern Africa: Soudan
Timbuctoo
Richard Hengist Horne (1802–1884)
 
MUST I still live in Timbuctoo,
  Midst burning and shifting sands,
In a small straw hut, near a foul morass,—
  When the earth has sweet green lands?
 
No breath of air, no song of a bird,        5
  And scarcely the voice of man,
Save the water-carrier’s wailful cry,
  As he plods to fill calabash-can.
 
No fruit, no tree, no herbage, nor soil
  Where a plant or root might grow,        10
Save the desert-shrub full of wounding thorns,
  As the lips of the camels know.
 
The main street steams with the caravans,
  Tired oxen and camels kneel down;
Box, package, and bales, are sold or exchanged,—        15
  And the train leaves our silent town.
 
The white man comes, and the white man goes,
  But his looks and his words remain;
They show me my heart can put forth green leaves,
  And my withering thoughts find rain.        20
 
O, why was I born in Timbuctoo?—
  For now that I hear the roar
Of distant lands, with large acts in men’s hands,
  I can rest in my hut no more.
 
New life! new hope! and change!        25
  Your echoes are in my brain;
Farewell to my thirsty home,
  I must traverse the land and main!
 
And can I, then, leave thee, poor Timbuctoo,
  Where I first beheld the sky?        30
Where my own loved maid now sleeps in the shade,
  Where the bones of my parents lie!
 
 
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