I opened with the evocative THE LISTENERS by Walter de la Mare and then read poems that picked up on the metaphors of TRAVELLER, MOON, LONELINESS, DEPARTURE & RETURN, DARKNESS & LIGHT. These are listed below.
Cape Town was still reeling from another two brutal femicides. Among the audience rippled the unanswerable questions regarding a pandemic of seemingly unstoppable violence toward figures of MOTHER WIFE DAUGHTER SISTER GIRL-CHILD WOMAN and the truly horrible narrative that this imprints upon our society.
Afterwards, I sat alone looking at the waves coming in, and at the far-distant mountains. My thoughts turned to the power of the POEM as Light-Bearer and H
In my novel, THE MASTER’S RUSE, the Poem is presented as a metaphorical Redeemer.
So what redemptive poem would one read now, I wondered, to a society riven by violence against women?
What poem would serve toward healing a society practicing violence against those who bear us in their wombs and birth us, to those who breastfeed and nurture us, to those who lullaby us?
What poem would serve a society bloodied by violence against those whom we invariably call out to when we ourselves are in pain or are dying or in need of deep maternal succour?
I had concluded my reading with Stephen Watson’s poem, PSALM. It is a poem I often turn to. I repeat it here in response to the violence that threatens to become our hallmark, and for its light-bearing power.
PSALM BY STEPHEN WATSON
Light, light-years beyond us,
architect of each day’s space:
You that sanction days, ordain
the field of space each day becomes;
Who gives us back these mountains
whose lines articulate the sky;
Who clothes the earth in depths of cloud,
and earths our world in sky –
O light, light-years beyond us,
light within us –
You the ground of all we see,
end of what it is to see,
Unending predicate of that which is,
of what it is to be –
The sea, still bitter, dark with night,
unfolds today in sets of waves;
The plains your space articulates
unfold into the day-long plains;
And now to walk in the light,
forgiven by this light – to see
It is yourself,
the light itself, in which we see –
Through thicknesses of time, of space,
you play again, unbidden, given,
Author of our one desire,
for this for which we pray:
To come ourselves, and even so,
today into the light of day.
POEMS READ: KNOCKING AT THE MOONLIT DOOR
Walter de la Mare The Listeners/ Tatamkhulu Afrika The bell/ Lisa Combrinck In the moonlight/ Gail Dendy Jewels/Barbara Fairhead Full-moon vigil/ Elisa Galgut In memoriam/ Keith Gottschalk Full moon/ Leslie Howard If you stayed/ Michael Keeling I could tell/ Allan Kolskie The bridge/ Eugène Marais Were you but here!/ Hylton Nel Restoration to light/ Andries Walter Oliphant This life. Night map. Coming home/ Karin Schimke As the tide moves/ Edith Södergran Song of the troubadour / /Han≠kass’o How mantis created the moon/ Patricia Schonstein The return. Chinese gift in moonlight. I saw a horseman once