Friday, June 15, 2007

The Zulu Girl

When in the sun the hot red acres smoulder,
Down where the sweating gang its labour plies,
A girl flings down her hoe, and from her shoulder

Unslings her child tormented by the flies.

She takes him to a ring of shadow pooled
By thorn-trees: purpled with the blood of ticks,
While her sharp nails, in slow caresses ruled,
Prowl through his hair with sharp electric clicks,

His sleepy mouth plugged by the heavy nipple,
Tugs like a puppy, grunting as he feeds:
Through his frail nerves her own deep languors ripple
Like a broad river sighing through its reeds.

Yet in that drowsy stream his flesh imbibes
An old unquenched unsmotherable heat-
The curbed ferocity of beaten tribes,
The sullen dignity of their defeat.

Her body looms above him like a hill
Within whose shade a village lies at rest,
Or the first cloud so terrible and still
That bears the coming harvest in its breast.

- Roy Campbell (1901 - 1957)

3 comments:

Vimbai said...

I remember doing this poem in highschool which was like, a lifetime ago. I must have crammed it well :-)

ATW said...

Not sure why I posted it - just seemed to say something about the ebb & flow of our life & times.

The curbed ferocity of beaten tribes,
The sullen dignity of their defeat.

VallyP said...

Wow, Wit. Powerful words here. Beautifully clear and direct in their intensity. Mind if I poach it?

By the way, I'm listening to my Flat stanley CD...love it so far. Really excellent!