The Plain

With tranquil and stretched-out grass fields
that are green after the early summer rain
with veldt that runs up to the edges of the far mountains
and lay as far as the eye can see
for almost immeasurable distances

I had seen the plain in my dream
where full of acacia trees it was wide,
was free under the bright blue
with a summer-sun burning fiercely in the cobalt sky
and thunder clouds building up dark on the hillocks

and everywhere there were game grazing undisturbed,
coots flew up every now and then
at a tributary near to a marsh
where women in the heat of day were washing clothes
and all kinds of wild animals lived in peace.

Hyenas cried and jackals laughed
when they greeted the moon
at the time when people became peaceful after a busy day
and a male lion roared as if beaconing off its territory
when beasts of prey everywhere came to life in the night

and away in the distance a few fires burnt joyfully
and the aromas of porridge and frying meat and the laughter
and songs of the people hanged on the wind
and bright stars with the Southern Cross prominent
filled the night sky

and for years everything was undisturbed
until the rifles of hunters did resound,
and the rattle of machines was unheard,
until modern civilization stepped in
when the gold and diamond mines came
and people declared the stretched out ground as their own property
and development went east, west, south and north

and nowhere there was a place of rest to be found
as in the vastness of nature
and in the concrete cities nature had faded to parks
and development just circled out further and further,
to buildings with walls of glass

as man sentenced himself continually
to the pursuit of work and money
and of the plain and its inhabitants nothing was left
than a mere legend that sometimes did surprise children
while people were continually searching for a greater meaning to life.

by Gert Strydom

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