(painting: “Baobab Tree, South Africa” by Thomas Baines)
1. a broad-trunked tropical tree (Adansonia digitata) of the silk-cotton family that is native to Africa and has an edible acidic fruit resembling a gourd and bark used in making paper, cloth, and rope; also any of several related trees chiefly of Madagascar and Australia.
[origin: 1640; New Latin bahobab ]
And fire-light gleams as lithe forms prance;
Mafu’s warriors spin in a blood-crazed dance.
The great fire chuckles in crimson blast
As the naked, leaping forms lurch past.
Like shadow-things in the shifting light,
They leap in a ghastly voodoo rite,
And the firelight gleams on white teeth bare
In fierce-eyed faces, amid flying hair.
And the dancers whirl
Through the shadowy swirl,
Mocking the shrieks
Of a captive girl.
Far to the East ’neath a baobab tree,
By a sullen river that runs to the sea,
Smolders a heap of ruins laid
In the midst of a ruined palisade.
Veiled by a grisly, yellow smoke,
No sound is heard save the vulture’s croak
And the jackals’ snarl at the cindered bones—
Unheeding, the sullen river drones.
And the river flows,
And the night wind blows,
Sifting the ashes
Of Mafu’s foes.
[from “Victory”; to read the complete poem, see The Collected Poetry of Robert E. Howard, p 163; Robert E. Howard Selected Poems, p. 289; and Night Images, p. 55.]