A lone prospector is searching for wealth in precious stones. It is excruciatingly hot and dry. The
prospector is suffering from heatstroke. Mirages and hallucinations begin to cloud his vision.
Eventually he is overcome with thirst. He scrabbles for water in a dry riverbed and finds wealth beyond
his wildest dreams. Or is it a vision of wealth? Or is it death?
A NOTE ON THE POET
Douglas Livingstone was born in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, in 1932. He came to South Africa with his
family at ten years of age when his father was captured by the Japanese. He would settle in Natal where
he went to Kearsney College.
He attended university in what was then Salisbury, Rhodesia -- now Harare, Zimbabwe -- where he
trained as a bacteriologist. He was later awarded a PhD in Science from the University of Natal.
Livingstone was employed as a marine biologist at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research in
He produced several volumes of poetry and wrote radio plays -- winning several awards, the highest
being an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Natal.
He died in Durban in 1996.
Have you looked at the questions
in the right column?
Read the left column and then answer
the following questions:
"A solitary prospector
staggered, locked in a vision
of slate hills that capered
on the molten horizon."
- Why is the horizon said to be "molten"? What do you call that appearance? (4)
- Why does the vision of slate hills "caper"? (2)
- What word tells you that the prospector was tired to the point of collapse? Indeed, why is he
- Is the prospector already beginning to imagine things? How do you know? (4)
"Waterless, he came to where
a river had run, now a band
flowing only in ripples
of white unquenchable sand."
- What indications are there that water had once flowed in the river? (4)
- Why is the sand said to be "unquenchable"? (2)
"Cursing, he dug sporadically
here, here, as deep as his arm,
and sat quite still, eyes thirstily
incredulous on his palm."
- Why is the prospector cursing? (4)
- Why are the prospector's eyes said to be "thirstily incredulous"? (4)
"And then he was swimming in fire
and drinking, splashing hot halos
of glittering drops at the choir
of assembled carrion crows."
- What is happening to the man in this stanza? (4)
- Why do you think the "carrion crows" are assembled? (2)