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Books & Poetry

Poem: Afrika

Books & Poetry

On the occasion of achievement of 15 years of Poet’s Corner, John Miles looks at a place that once known, is never forgotten.

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Eugène Nielen Marais 1871–1936,
Ralph John Rabie 1960–2002.

Will we see that land again
across an ocean of both breadth and time,
one known only in memories now
of celebration but also lament,
one as its poets penned of
in their words of both rhyme and song?

Stelig, skade, Afrika,
in starlight not damage be calm,
tula, halala, Afrika,
in hush rejoice at peace,
be as you were as we remember you
that you could come so into our blood.

Remembered the reeds of your rivers,
Crocodile, Limpopo and Sand,
trees grown tall or spreading,
baobab, Jackalberry and thorn,
veldts high and low we crossed to
find olifant, leo-pard and eland,
sunsets and dawns beyond expression
of blood-orange, blue-yellow and more,

your peoples all that friended
told their tales of wideness and wonder
of impi, diamonds and trek,
set from high Rand and its white waters
down to João Belo by an Indian sea.

Can we see you, land again,
across an ocean of both breadth and time,
you where we married at a midday,
to live for those sunsets and dawns?

Tula, halala, Afrika,
be again as you can that memories
are of celebration more than lament,
be all the colours of those middays
those sunsets and awakening dawns,
be as your poets wrote of you
in their words of both rhyme and song

be all those things that we will see you again,
you our love, food and water and lullaby,
our gold, our bright silver-like days.

John Miles has been the recipient of both national and international poetry awards, and along with works on Australian literary criticism and biography is the author of five collections of poetry, including ‘Hands of Gold’, published in the US last year. Recognised for his work on the Australian Angry Penguin Modernist poets, those of the 17th century English Metaphysical school, and those of China’s Tang Dynasty, he is currently engaged in study of American Confessional and women poets. A past poetry editor of the 1990s national journal ‘Australian Writer’, he has been the honorary poetry editor for Solstice Media’s ‘The Independent Weekly’ and its online successor ‘InDaily’, since their inceptions in 2006 and 2010. 

Read John’s reflections on Poet’s Corner’s 15th anniversary here

John Miles and his wife Kay in reeds of the Crocodile, Limpopo and Sand River systems, 1972.

Readers’ original and unpublished poems of up to 40 lines can be emailed, with postal address, to Submissions should be in the body of the email, not as attachments. A poetry book will be awarded to each accepted contributor.
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This article is supported by the Judith Neilson Institute for Journalism and Ideas.

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