Salmon Van As - Poem by Gert Strydom
On a night just as the moon is rising
a British officer comes by horse with a white flag
and the rifle barrels of the Boers follow him,
as they are on guard at the front post.
Evening after evening he comes
and sometimes rides past in a cloud of dust
where he is spying on their positions
and tries to lead them astray with his chattering.
With words that by now they know:
“No nation will win against us.
as you have already lost the war.”
On a hillock Salmon van As is at the front post
and something creaks below him in the trees and bushes
where he is standing with his Mauser rifle at the ready
and he knows of the atrocities of this Englishman
where with a thunder clap he shoots at him.
Some black men run back to the British camp
to tell the story of the shot,
where a red headed major stamps his feet in anger
and swears to God to take revenge.
Convinced of his own innocence Salmon van As
stays openly on his own farm,
where he goes on with his life in Heidelberg
and just after the peace of Vereniging,
when it fits the British,
they insist on his arrest.
He is brought before a military court
where he is not given any chance to defend himself,
as probably he would have succeeded in his own defence
and the British officer says his final say.
At daylight the Lee Metford rifles of the British soldiers fire
and like Gideon Scheepers there’s a Boer that falls,
a Boer citizen is murdered by the British
and in the cliff a thorn tree on his grave still tells that story.
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