MAGWERE, WHO WAITS WONDERING - Sir George Etherege Poems


Poems » sir george etherege » magwere who waits wondering


Among the smooth hills of Manika,
Near the edge of the big swamp where cane rats live,
Grew Magwere the mealie.

The crows who nest on the Peak,
And the striped field-mice from underground,
And the thin-nosed shrew that dies on footpaths,
Had miss'd Magwere when she was sown.

Therefore the mealie grew
In the moist earth on the swamp edge
With many of her sisters;

And threw up gay leaves, yellow-green,
That glitter'd brightly in the sunshine,
And always laugh'd when the wind blew,
And lisp'd, day long, in the ears of her sisters.

And Madongwe, the red locusts,
Found not the green leaves of Magwere,
Who flourish'd on the swamp edge.

Kwagudu, the old wife, with her hoe
That was worn blunt-nosed with use,
Weeded all day the fields of her husband,
And hoed the weeds from the roots of Magwere.

And Wanaka, the young mother,
Left her baby in the shade of Magwere,
While she pick'd mowa for the pot.

And the fat baby laugh'd greatly
At the green leaves that waved so, --
So gaily in the cool wind
That set all the mealies a-rustling.

But Dzua the Sun, who lives beyond the sky line,
Laugh'd in the sky, and sent words by the wind,
And the Wind whisper'd in the ear of Magwere.

`O Magwere,' the Wind said, `thus says the Sun: --
"Ha, ha, Magwere, by the swamp edge!
Smile now, Magwere, while you can,
For the time of harvest is very close.

"Then will your flowers die, Magwere,
Your brown leaves sing only of death,
And your shiny beard will wither and turn brown.

"Madzua Nipi, or some other maiden,
Hot and hard-handed, from the kraal,
Will pluck you from your stalk, and tear your sheath
That hides the softness of your golden grain.

"What will Madzua Nipi do with you?
Roast you upon the coals, and shred your grains
Into her hand, and throw them in her mouth!

"Or will Marumi come, the husbandman,
Saying, `This cob is good,' -- and put you by
To sleep awhile and wake again in Spring,
To blossom gloriously an hundred-fold?"'

Magwere answer'd nothing, standing still
And very rigid in the mocking sun;
And knew not any answer for the wind.

And very dry her leaves grew in the sun,
And very brown her stalk, her sheath, and beard;
And all her joy drew back into her heart
That swell'd so sorrowful beneath its sheath.