The South African autumn affords those who venture out upon the hills before sunrise the most ethereal views of the Overberg. Wet with the rains of May, puddles punctuate the paths, lanes and dirt roads—mirrors crudely shaped but polished to perfection, faithfully reflecting the sky.
Surrounded by such beauty, I work diligently at my anthology. Though presently developing “Rietpypie”, I occasionally revisit poems already completed, testing those new ideas that come with re-examination, and thus, “A Batis” returns to the writing desk as I try to improve upon it.
Sometimes, a poem takes on a very different form, once the writing process begins, and the first draft is but a germ. What started as a playful two-stanza composition about the moods of the wind, has through many variations become a meditation on its gentler moments, manifesting itself in three separate poems (a trend of late) bearing no resemblance to the original sketch.1
The original first stanza—incidentally, inspired by a note made whilst working on “Most Sublime” (of which I wrote in “This November”, paragraph 10): “Stroking, playing, flowing, rolling, / Rippling in the grass! // Lapping, skipping, dancing, strolling, / Never where it was!”. The transformation was the result of an image evoked by “To a Wild Flower I”, creating a style more contemplative than gambolling.
They are, in order of likelihood of inclusion in the anthology: “The Wind at the Wayside”, a delicate reverie on the lightest zephyrs of spring; “On the Wind”, a variation on that subject, drawing on the same imagery; and “Ataraxia”—a word derived from Ancient Greek that refers to a state of serene calmness—a distillation of the aforementioned poems in a single four-line stanza.
The Wild Flower Trio
Next is the “Wild Flower Trio”, three poems inspired by floral finds on a heathery mountain slope in the spring of 2018. Four sketches resulted from that indelible excursion of which I wrote in “This December”. It has been two years since then, but the textures, perfumes, sights and sounds are vivid within me as I slowly move my thoughts to “Rietpypie”2, the first of the set.
“Rietpypie” is Afrikaans for “little reed pipe” (pronounced “Rietpaypy” with a trilled [R]).
“Bergpypie” is Afrikaans for “little mountain pipe” (pronounced “behRCHpaypy” with a trilled [R], the guttural [CH] sound in “loch”(not the [ck] in “lock”) and the [i] in “did”).
“To a Wild Flower”, previously “Little Evening Lily”, is complete! What began as a single sketch—an ode to my beloved Gladiolus liliaceus in all its incarnations—has blossomed into three separate poems: I. “Lovely Wayside Lily”, II. “There Is No Other Lily . . .” and III. “Wondrous Afrikaner”.
As expected, it took four months to develop the three variations, each dwelling in short and simple lines upon those aspects of the flower that charm me most. I am content that I have poured into the stanzas my naïve appreciation of the flower’s beauty and eagerly await September that I may recite to it my laudations.
Next, I shall develop “The Wind!”, a sketch outlined in November 2018, one of several compositions on the titular theme. Wild flowers, birds, beasts, hills, fields and the wind: these move me to verse! For the moments when they leave me speechless, I write poems bursting with praise.