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A Day in Africa

Du Bois was a fine poet, and probably would have received much more recognition for his work had he not been so accomplished in other fields. In “A Day in Africa,” published in his short-lived magazine, The Horizon , Du Bois imagines awakening at dawn in the African countryside. It was not until 1924 that he actually visited Africa in person. I rose to sense the incense of the hills, The royal sun sent crimsoned heralds to the dawn She glowed beneath her bridal veil of mist— I felt her heart swell while the king Paused on the world’s rough edge, And thousand birds did pour their little hearts To maddened melody. I leapt and danced, and found My breakfast poised aloft, All served in living gold. In purple flowered fields I’ wandered Wreathed in crimson, blue and green. My noon-tide meal did fawn about my feet In striped sleekness. I kissed it ere I killed it, And slept away the liquid languor of the noon; Then rose and chased a wild new creature 38 Down the glen, till suddenly It wheeled and fetched its fangs Across my breast. I poised my spear: Then saw its fear-mad piteous eyes, And gave it life and food. The sun grew sad. I watched The mystic moon-dance of the elves Amid the mirth-mad laughter of the stars; Till far away some voice did wind The velvet trumpet of the night- And then in glooming caves I laid me with the lion And I slept.