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Kingsley Fairbridge (1885-1924)

Burial


Among the Manyika, a dead infant is buried by its Mother without a ceremony.

              1Yowe, yowe, mwanango duku!
              2I bury you here by the edge of the lands.

              3Under the scrub and the weeds I bury you,
              4Here in the clay where the bracken grows.

              5Here on the hill the wind blows cold,
              6And the creepers are wet with the driving mist.

              7The grain-huts stand like ghosts in the mist,
              8And the water drips from their sodden thatch.

              9And the rain-drops drip in the forest yonder
            10When the hill-wind shakes the heavy boughs.

            11Alas! I am old, and you are the last --
            12Mwanango, the last of me, here on the hillside.

            13The dust where you play'd by the edge of the kraal
            14Is sodden with rain, and is trodden to mud.

            15The hoe that I use to fashion your dwelling
            16Is caked with the earth that is taking you from me.

            17Where now is Dzua who ripes the rukweza?
            18And where now are you, O mwanango kaduku?

            19Alas! Alas! My little child!
            20I bury you here by the edge of the lands.

Notes

1] Manyika: a language, whose speakers are in Zimbabwe and Mozambique.
The first line is translated at line 19.

13] kraal: native African village, huts surrounded by a fence, with an area for livestock.

17] Dzua: the sun.
rukweza: African grain crop (not in OED).


Online text copyright © 2003, Ian Lancashire for the Department of English, University of Toronto.
Published by the Web Development Group, Information Technology Services, University of Toronto Libraries.

Original text: Kingsley Fairbridge, Veld Verse and Other Lines (London: David Nutt, 1909): 66-67. Cf. Veld Verse (London: Oxford University Press, 1928): 47.
First publication date: 1909
RPO poem editor: Ian Lancashire
RP edition: RPO 2000.
Recent editing: 2:2002/4/18

Form: couplets
Rhyme: unrhyming


Other poems by Kingsley Fairbridge