In The Highveld - Poem by Gert Strydom
(after Toon van den Heever)
In the Highveld with the sky cobalt blue and open
where rock rabbits, steenbok and baboons revel,
you see the wind skipping through the long grass
and you can still believe in God and His angels,
the rain gathers with thunder
where through the open spaces you can see far into the veldt,
you are astounded by the beauty of flowering proteas
and you still can realize your dependence
but when the city’s rumbling becomes too much,
the jacarandas start flowering in the streets,
buildings of steel and concrete start to curtail you,
you dream about wild flowers appearing everywhere
and it’s the places of a child that you miss,
in the Highveld where the veldt stretches out into the distance.
In the Highveld where the veldt stretches out into the distance
and the wind rollicks through the grass
the sky is pure blue and you can look for hours at it,
there you can find freedom from the city’s imprisonment.
When the wind rustles through the march you loose all sadness,
you see the African red-knobbed coot gathering her chickens,
you can hear the finches’ caper, branches full together,
you see every great small happening,
how wild flowers of every imaginable colour
grow as if planted in secret
(and I will go back if I only could)
where I can find some serenity, can have peace
where I will know about God’s heritage;
there the sun shines.
There the sun shines
where proteas and aloes flower wildly,
bright up to the horizon
coming out of the earth by themselves
with violets growing purple-blue right through the marsh,
with daisies stretching white over the veldt,
with long tailed widow birds flapping their wings
and the earth is covered with long green grass.
To this piece of ground I am trapped
even when my days are drawing to their end,
it goes even to my heart’s deepest yearning,
with every plant, bush and flower
as it’s bought with sweat and blood,
nobody can strip it from me.
Nobody can strip it from me,
I have to go back to where the sun hangs golden
in the sapphire heaven, I have got to strip the city from me
(but if I only could)
the big desire stays and out of the town I must go
away from the ambulance and police sirens that cuts through everything,
trains whistling almost endlessly,
I have got to go to where only the frog choir and crickets sing.
Again I have got to get the smell of sugar bushes,
smell the rain, spring, summer and even autumn
I must get away from a world where tinned pleasure seduces,
where people use other people for their own pleasure.
I want to stand in the green fields of grass,
when the day dies.
When the day dies
letting its last rays fall,
with the birds flying to their nests
darkness comes to this part of the universe,
the doves at dusk still call to each other
as if their voices bind them in the darkness,
you can see the moon sailing golden-yellow through the sky,
you are sometimes blinded by the bright rays,
the city lights glitter far away
in all the colours of the rainbow,
here you want to bond your life to a loved one,
catching her moments long in your eye
when people come together here,
the madness of the human existence is exorcised.
The madness of the human existence is exorcised
even in later years past your own youth,
when you are in the world that your heart desires,
you want to invite the new spring to stay with you
shaking out that which bothers and torments to the early summer wind,
feeling the effervescence of new life,
blinded by the sun you want to find healing
while the whole of spring washes through your life
with the light, air, the flowers, birds and sun splashing down
as if your autumn is only in your imagination,
you want to wash yourself clean from old age,
you are searching for exorcism from the darkness
there are still flowers sprouting out everywhere,
when the colours of autumn smoulder in the trees.
When the colours of autumn smoulder in the trees
with branches being full of coloured leaves,
the sun is still heating as in summer
before the first biting winds begin to whine.
I see opened pod upon opened pod
that lays brown scorched without any signs of seeds,
the dull blue sky has clouds in milky white,
trees become a wild watermill
that is halfway skeleton, halfway still carrying leaves,
afternoons are still drawn out
and even when days earlier end in winter
it’s a time without equal,
as if the summer can last forever,
in the Highveld with the sky cobalt blue and open.
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