Verse > Rudyard Kipling > Verse: 1885–1918
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Rudyard Kipling (1865–1936).  Verse: 1885–1918.  1922.
 
South Africa
 
1903

LIVED a woman wonderful,
  (May the Lord amend her!)
Neither simple, kind, nor true,
But her Pagan beauty drew
Christian gentlemen a few        5
  Hotly to attend her.
 
Christian gentlemen a few
  From Berwick unto Dover;
For she was South Africa,
And she was South Africa,        10
She was Our South Africa,
  Africa all over!
 
Half her land was dead with drouth,
  Half was red with battle;
She was fenced with fire and sword        15
Plague on pestilence outpoured,
Locusts on the greening sward
  And murrain on the cattle!
 
True, ah true, and overtrue.
  That is why we love her!        20
For she is South Africa,
And she is South Africa,
She is Our South Africa,
  Africa all over!
 
Bitter hard her lovers toiled,        25
  Scandalous their payment,—
Food forgot on trains derailed;
Cattle-dung where fuel failed;
Water where the mules had staled;
  And sackcloth for their raiment!        30
 
So she filled their mouths with dust
  And their bones with fever;
Greeted them with cruel lies;
Treated them despiteful-wise;
Meted them calamities        35
  Till they vowed to leave her!
 
They took ship and they took sail,
  Raging, from her borders—
In a little, none the less,
They forgat their sore duresse,        40
They forgave her waywardness
  And returned for orders!
 
They esteemed her favour more
  Than a Throne’s foundation.
For the glory of her face        45
Bade farewell to breed and race—
Yea, and made their burial-place
  Altar of a Nation!
 
Wherefore, being bought by blood,
  And by blood restorèd        50
To the arms that nearly lost,
She, because of all she cost,
Stands, a very woman, most
  Perfect and adored!
 
On your feet, and let them know        55
  This is why we love her!
For she is South Africa,
She is Our South Africa,
Is Our Own South Africa,
  Africa all over!        60
 
 
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