Eastern Cape poems
These are some poems I wrote back in 1995. I’m not always too certain of their value but thought I would offer them to my friends on HubPages for comment and, I hope, for their enjoyment also.
Much of the inspiration for these poems comes from the former Transkei region of the Eastern Cape province of South Africa, a land rich in history and source of many of the leaders of the liberation movements which brought an end to colonialism and apartheid in South Africa.
The Eastern Cape was the most important interface between black and white and the way that interface was managed by both has deeply influenced the subsequent history of South Africa.
In the Eastern Cape some of the earliest Christian missionary endeavours led to the establishment of schools and universities which have contributed greatly to the development of freedom and learning in not only South Africa, but more broadly in Southern Africa.
So it is a rich and storied land, a land of great beauty and great poverty, and a land of creative and exciting people who have developed over the years a great culture in terms of music, literature and the plastic arts.
So these poems, if they can be called such, are dedicated to the people of the Eastern Cape, and in particular, to those of the former Transkei.
The sun drowns in red clouds of dust
As children go home through shadows of thorn trees.
The old men talk, their pipes smoking
As crickets chatter, dogs bark at the birds
Wheeling and weaving worrying to their nests
While cows drift back to thorny enclosures
Ignoring the young men with clattering sticks
Singing and whistling, shouting to friends.
Rising smoke catches the last of daylight’s rays
And spreads the mingled smells of food and
Burning cow dung across the valley
To where I stand
Enjoying the changing light
As it carves the distant hills
With contrasts of colour,
My feet in darkness, my eyes look for the light.
I look for the African light
Anticipating another life,
Another challenge to grasp hold of,
A reborn world to rejoice in,
Another day, another song.
Life for the living goes on and on
While for the dying a different song rises,
And adds to the rich weave of Africa’s new day.
What is this feeling of knowing,
This remembering of times past,
The caring for times to come,
The daring of what is now,
This rhythm that holds all together
In the palm of its hand?
This is the known and knowing vibration,
The music of the spheres that comes to be
The music of us.
Jagged or smooth the rhythm,
Vibration of life in the midst of life and death.
A young man helps an old tramp across the road,
Steadying age with the vigour of youth.
Who has the most experience,
Who is the master of past or present?
The music moves within us,
Brings creation to life,
A song thrown with daring at the dark,
A breath breathed against the wind.
And love will come
To consecrate it all.
Love is the flower
And music is its language.
(Dedicated to Vivienne, who understands)
Cold and dark, dark and cold,
Cold, dark night into
Breaking dawn of windswept bay;
Measured by the rhythm, pattern of waves,
Rocks with beards of grass,
Branches shaken from passing
Drip dew down shirt back;
Sounds of birds, distant dogs, barks,
Whistles, shouts, singing, harmonies,
Battering sharp drum beats;
Feet, bodies, faces alert in the joy of song,
The joy of sound from mouths, hands,
Jerking into motion
Swirling dusty feet.
Calming, cooling streams
That meander curving and curling
Into distant valleys between the high hills
Covered with ferns and scraggly thorn trees
Lion-coloured grass waving in rhythm,
Rhyming to the passing breeze.
River’s mist like smoke rising
In luscious wave upon wave
Until the sun burns and sears, sears and burns
Into screaming daylight with crash
Of rocks and gravel crushing,
Engine’s steady throb and beat
Mechanical echo of drums,
Iron and steel reverberating
Over skin and wood
Changing the times.
What I want is locked in childhood memories
Of soft and gentle
River with tadpole, eel in
Ruminative pool, sun glinting in depths
Of grey green waters, smooth rocks
Hidden and cool and the voices
Drift further away,
Further into dusk,
With lonely shouts,
The text and all images on this page, unless otherwise indicated, are by Tony McGregor who hereby asserts his copyright on the material. Should you wish to use any of the text or images feel free to do so with proper attribution and, if possible, a link back to this page. Thank you.
© Tony McGregor 2010