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Salient. Official Newspaper of Victoria University Students Association. Volume 40, Number 3. March 14, 1977.

Poetry From South Africa

page 13

Poetry From South Africa

These poems came from a book of poems by James Matthews and Gladys Thomas called 'Cry Rage'. These poems are all by James Matthews. 'Cry Rage' is available from the Wellington Anti-Apartheid Plenary which has its office top floor, Union Building. It costs $1.50

valley of plenty is what it is called;
where little children display their nakedness
and stumble around on listless limbs
eyes haunted and bellies bloated with their hunger;
where mothers plough their dead fruit into the soil
their crone breasts dry of milk
faces and figures gaunt with labour;
where menfolk castrated by degradation
seek their manhood in a jug
of wine brackish as their bile;
where depravity has become a familiar thing
man adopts the habits of a hound
befouling himself and his kind;
where white people pious in their protest
deny knowledge of the misery that exists
the adversity following in its wake;
and my fair land a'dying of the stench
of valleys of plenty

Drawing of a woman and young boy

Drawing of a boy

We watched the white man's arrival
in strange-shaped ships we did not know
now we have become trespassers
on the shores of our land

he brought with him a book
that spoke of a new religion
of love, humility and compassion
to blind us to his deception

the fields that were ours
our cattle can no longer graze
and like the cattle we are herded
to starve on barren soil

we die in the earth's depth
to fill his coffer with gold
his lust for the shiny pebbles
outweights his concern for our lives

our strong backs build the roads
upon which the white man travels
his chariot sprays us with dust
as we are forced into the ditch

in his hourse our mothers
and sisters soothe his young
tendering them the love they need
only to be rejected in later years

the coming to our Land
of the white man and his tribe
has taught us a lesson
bitter as roots
the word of the white man
has the value of dirt

Two little black boys
standing in front of a public lavatory
one not bigger than a grasshopper
the other a head of hair taller
you can't go in there
the tall one said, pointing to the board
it's white people only
puzzled, the grasshopper replied
don't white people shit like me?

Drawing of two people reaching to the sky

opening the newspapers you will see
manifestations of the nightmare of
living in this our enlightened land

big, bold letters clothed in lumping-judge black
state that it is lawful for an African maid
to be parted from her man

who toils until muscles weakened with age
contribute no longer to the economy of the state
is then sent to join his woman in the wasteland

spent of seed they sit and stare
at the brack and barren land
bitterly asking whether God cares a damn
what is happening to his children
not born with a skin coloured white
in our enlightened land