Diana van den Berg

Diana van den Berg Poems

It’s the Africa in me
that loves the forest in which I wake,
that sees and hears its fauna and flora and revels in their names.

I stood and looked in the cool of the twilight -
the sun was peacefully sinking low,
her last rays glowing and lovingly encompassing
the world in a soft and rich, warm glow.

if I woke up black
I would sprint at once to buy
a sun-yellow dress

I could find no poetry in your soul;
I couldn’t teach your heart to sing;
You wouldn’t let my spirit fly;
And so I stand here on the moonlit beach

Icy mountain mornings laugh
in liquid trills.

Ridiculous puffs of fluff bounce


it was intended
that I walk

The moon makes patterns on my floor,
leaf-edged and almost still.

The thick blanket of night silence cushions

When dark crawls small
around the throat,
and soul-stones grind both grey
and shiver-slow,

Good morning, God
in this picture-book, pre-work moment.

Look at that pair of yellow-billed kites

Today I am going to pretend to be normal.
I am going to behave as I would have before that Friday.
I am going to hang up the washing
and I am going to weed the garden

I sat with you, my beloved horse,
when you breathed your last
when others who loved you
did all the organising

I feel your love and strength
my sweetheart horse
holding me up
and helping me walk and talk,

I want there to be a place where I can go
to unburden myself of this weighted sorrow.
Love is not enough.
Its anguish is what has killed us both,

A branch shook.
A leaf detached itself
and fell
on to my verandah in the sunlight.

She goes about her nothing way
Pointing plastic smiles at cardboard figures,
Doing relatives and others on given dates at given times,
As surely marked on some drab calendar.


You are the birth of dawn colours
splashed across my eager sky,
that thrill my waking
and invite me to another day.

I strain my ears,
for each delicate note,
for each pianissimo dolce espressivo trill,

I was spellbound
by the graceful arc

If you had lived,
you would have been cold
at nights
this last week

The light sparkled on the glass in your hand.
For a moment, I turned away,
like the light,

Diana van den Berg Biography

Unlike Princess Diana, I am old (a wonderful word!) , ugly (well, certainly in comparison with Princess Diana - and who cares? - not me! - in actual fact, I don't really think I am ugly, but find that difficult to say) , alive (all the time) and happy (most of the time) . I am an animal lover (all animals - wild and domestic - including snakes, spiders, frogs, scorpions, etc - every creature that walked, hopped, crawled, swam, flew, slithered, anything-elsed the planet) and very interested in ecology of all kinds. My garden is an indigenous forest (a small one) . My children, when they were small used to give me indigenous trees for birthday and Christmas presents. I had the most wonderful horse (Flicka) in the world for 20½ years, but he went to Heaven on 28 April 2002 at 37½ years mature. He was the healthiest, happiest horse I ever knew. I miss him terribly. My darling blind Maltese poodle, Daisy, went to Heaven at 14½ years mature on 18 December 2009 and my darling tabby cat, Tigger, went to Heaven at 15½ years mature on 26 October 2010. On 31 December 2010, Flicka, Tigger and Daisy found me my darling miniature Doberman Pinscher, Benji then 11 months and my darling tortoise-shell cat, Cleo then 5 years. Dogs don't bite me. Either I taste bad or they know I love them all - even before sight. I have 2 children whom I love with all my heart. My daughter is divorced and has two children and lives in Australia. She doesn't talk to me at all any more - and that, and all its implications, breaks my heart. My son is married and has two step-children and lives a couple of kilometres away from me. He loves me. I divorced my husband in 1974 and he died at Christmas time in 2007. I adore my country South Africa (and my continent Africa) and am very optimistic about South Africa's future. I have been the secretary for our local sector policing forum for the last 3 years, not just to support my son who has been the chairman for the same period. We are both, along with others, very active in operations designed to bring peace to our community and have reduced crime in our area to a very marked extent. I believe that World Peace is possible. It is my opinion that the solution is simple theoretically, but complex practically. I never go anywhere without my sense of humour - or almost never. It carries me through a lot! I love being 69. I find it great fun. People tell me I am young at heart, but that is not true. I am old. It is a simple fact. There is nothing wrong with the O word (except when referring to my animals - then the word is 'mature') . To me the O word implies, amongst many other things that I can't think of all at once, 'maturity, wisdom, learning, having life experience, having developed sensitivities that bring appreciation of the smallest and largest things and the wonder of all living creatures'. I have the most incredible health that defies explanation, the bone structure of a 20-year old (with X-rays to prove it!) , more energy than most people I know all put together - I have no idea where it comes from (I often forget to eat, and when I don't forget, I often don't eat much anyway or the right things) , but the energy is there. I don't see why I should walk if I can run. I write poetry - have done just about all my life with some gaps. I don't want my poetry published. Weird? Perhaps, but it is my choice. My daughter-in-law has threatened to have it published after I am dead, but I threatened to haunt her if she does. I don't mind reading it - or showing it - to anyone of my choice whether that be an individual, or a hall full of people, or posting it on an open forum - but that is different - I haven't really thought how and why, but it is. I taught in high schools and primary schools for many years, mainly French in high schools, but also English and Afrikaans - and in primary schools, all subjects. At various times, I used to run a Poetry Club and a Nature Club at the school I taught at, at the time. I have a company, the main focus of which is to develop computer applications. I am a realistic optimist - or an optimistic realist and try to make differences, even if they are very small. I sing (metaphorically - if I really sang, all frogs would leave South Africa and I don't want that) - as I was saying, I sing my joys, cry my sorrows and am temporarily paralysed by my fears (and then I take control again) and I put a lot of all of that into my poetry. I am me. I like me. Not everybody else does. I am not really a people's person, although I try my best to be. I am easily disappointed in people. I try to be tolerant of people with different values to mine, and succeed up to a point, but I don't find it easy. I am very faithful and supportive to my friends. I usually find that the people I get on best with are animal lovers (even when I don't know that to begin with) .)

The Best Poem Of Diana van den Berg

It's The Africa In Me

It’s the Africa in me
that loves the forest in which I wake,
that sees and hears its fauna and flora and revels in their names.

It’s the Africa in me
that you hear in my spirited conversation,
that shakes my shoulders as I sob my sorrows
or laugh my insides, inside-out.

It’s the Africa in me
that keeps me reading poetry deep into the night
and causes me to stroke the sinuous muscles of my striped, domestic cat
and kiss the muzzle of my gently nickering horse.

It’s the Africa in me
that has taught me how to love
and patches up the fragments of my soul after each disaster
and renews my zeal and increases my understanding
in preparation for the next onslaught.

It’s the Africa in me
that has carried me
from my first baby breath
and will support me to my very last.

I am truly a child born of Africa.

(August 1999)

Diana van den Berg Comments

Sandy van den Berg 02 January 2022

I am Diana's daughter-in-law. I am sorry to have to let you know that Diana crossed the veil in 2020. She is no doubt still writing poetry in a world filled with animals and woodland creatures. She loved her poetry forums and engaging with you. Thank you for making her days fulfilling.

0 1 Reply
Kim Barney 26 December 2015

Diana has one of the most fascinating biographies that I have ever read. I feel enriched just for having read it. I, too, love animals and would love to meet her. By the way, her poetry is very good.

2 0 Reply
Terry Dawson 27 October 2015

Diana, queen of words.

2 0 Reply
Bradley Blue Jay Phipps 23 April 2015

One of my all time most favorite poetesses.

2 0 Reply
Sigurdur Gislason 17 August 2013

The best I have seen for long, good poetic understanding and structure, content without direct preaching. Pleasure to read.

2 0 Reply

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