I am now in that phase of composition where I have developed many variations of the two “A Rhebok!” verses, and have started weeding out the least compelling versions of the lines. It is a task requiring patience (as one carefully picks through what one has written), courage (as one identifies what is inferior) and discernment (as one selects what is promising). It can also be daunting—what if, for example, one rejects a variation one later discovers was good? This is all part of the beautiful uncertainty that is the artistic process and the painful joy of time well wasted.
If ever a poem was inevitable, it is this one; I just composed “A Clapper Lark”, inspired by the bird.
In the morning, as one walks along the country lanes, now and then on the fences, Cape Clapper Lark males (Mirafra apiata apiata) make an entertaining display. Flapping their wings, they fly straight up into the air from the posts—which produces a fast “pup-pup-pup-pup” clapping sound (about 25 to 28 claps per second) that increases in speed—uttering a mid-air “Phwoooeeeeeet!” before descending. This is done to attract a mate, and one cannot help but stop and take pleasure in it; indeed, one is oneself tempted to clap for sheer enjoyment!