To think that one agonises for weeks or months over what will be read or recited in a moment. A poet can but hope it is the sweetest moment in a reader’s life, echoing in his soul for a lifetime thereafter.
Amazingly—given my recent trend of lengthy writing times—“Kalossie”, the third of the “Wild Flower Sketches”, was completed in just four short writing sessions, including the conception of the original draft.
The “Wild Flower Sketches” then are a triptych of tercets celebrating Tritoniopsis antholyza, Lobelia chamaepitys and Ixia stricta. What a joy to have words prepared the next time I meet them on the mountain!
Next, I shall develop the “Toktokkie”1 poem, inspired by the beetle of that name. I composed the first draft—“Tock-tocky”—nearly a month after encountering it on the mountain that blessed summer evening.
I recognised it from childhood and remembered that knocking with one’s knuckle on the ground would persuade it to do the same with its rear!2 The poem enjoys this amusement in two stanzas.
The tapping is the origin of its common name, the onomatopoeic “Toktokkie”, Afrikaans for “little knock-knock”. I anglicised this to “Tock-tocky”, but no such contrivance is necessary—“Toktokkie” is its title.
- Afrikaans; pronounced [tockTOCKy], with a clipped version of the [o] in ‘or’.
- Tricked into thinking a potential mate is nearby.
“Lobelia”, the second of three wild flower poetic sketches, is complete. A short and, I hope, sweet celebration of the Thin-stalked Lobelia (Lobelia chamaepitys) that quietly adorn the mountainsides and waysides of the Overberg region in the Western Cape of South Africa from September (Spring) to April (Autumn).
Compositionally, “Lobelia” follows the tercet style of “Karkar Flowers”; like that sketch, buoyant and brief, singing the joy of beholding the flower. If the third sketch—“Kalossie”—permits it, then it too shall have this structure and so complete a tercet trio. To the development of this composition, I devote myself next.
Captivated by the Karkar and love-struck by the Lobelia, the Kalossie (Ixia stricta)1 was pure delight: its delicate bouquet of pink blossoms swaying in the breeze on the lithest stem, a wonder to behold in the heather! This impression on the mountainside that seminal summer evening, I must somehow commit to verse.
- Previously, I had misidentified the flower as Ixia scillaris. According to botanist Dr Christopher Whitehouse, the two are often confused, and such was my error.
Both versions of “Karkar”1 (previously “Rietpypie”) are finished. The first, “Karkar”, consists of three stanzas and the second, “Karkar Flowers”, of two. Their styles differ, but their themes are the same: delight at the fiery flower, vivid in the setting sun. Which version to include in the final collection, I am yet to decide.
- “Karkar” (pronounced [kaRkaR] with a trilled [R]) is onomatopoeic, referring to the sound produced when rubbing the ribbed dry leaves together.
The compositions took much longer than anticipated: an unprecedented five months (though writing was sporadic), interrupted by life and, most significantly, love. Now, more focused on the anthology than ever, I eagerly begin development on “Lobelia” (working title), the second of the “Wild Flower Sketches”.
The wild Thin-stalked Lobelia is endemic to the Overberg.2 It first enraptured me in 2018 on a mountain slope not far from where I would see it again, three seasons later (along with other wild flowers new to me, among them, the Karkar Flower). Bewitched by its winglike violet petals in the breeze, a poem was inevitable.
- As are all the flowers and creatures of which I write—swallows, the only exception. (The Overberg is an agricultural region in the Western Cape province of South Africa.)
Its loveliness I shall now attempt to extol by developing the sketch I composed after the second encounter. I intend to write more frequently, so I expect it should be completed faster than its companion “Karkar” set; however, poems are not predictable, and I must humbly submit to my Muse (that gentle wind o’er the hills).