Does revelry have a dark side? Is the release of uninhibited emotions therapeutic? Does joy and exuberance have a function in our society? Where do revelry and aggression meet each other, if anywhere?
This is the poem that emerged.
We celebrate the fallen faun
with wine and brandy and with ice
(mit eish, ja; mit eish)
and roast the seasoned flesh
on a grid above a confidential fire.
The men speak fine, forgotten memories
of fecund mielie fields,
and five hundred head of cattle in the kraal.
“Kom dans Klaradyn, kom en dans weer met my
op maat van die aandwind wat wieg oor die wei”*
And the others laugh at me and Klara;
wrestling with our dance
and some jump in to join the fray.
But Fanus has a heavy hand
that makes Malan quite maudlin;
mourning better days before, when
Karabo would not have been my date.
It’s late when fists begin to fly
and we all escape into our cars;
the men wear scars and rainbow bruises,
shameful symbols of residual hate.
©Cindy Taylor 2008
* Lyrics by CF Visser
Poetry tutor, De Waal Venter’s reading:
The poem describes a group of people having a party. It starts off with a reference from classical mythology – a “fallen faun”. But the poem immediately sets a South African scene – the faun metamorphises into a fawn, read buck or even sheep. It is a braai and the lines from the ad (mit eish, ja; mit eish) underlines the topical South African situation The theme is further strengthened by the “Kom dans Klaradyn” reference.
The men have memories of fecund mielie fields and a kraal full of cattle. This suggests that some of the men are Afrikaners whose parents and grandparents were farmers. These men represent the second or third generation that has become urbanized. Names like “Fanus” and “Malan” strengthen the impression that some of the men are Afrikaners.
The narrator in the poem seems to be a man. Firstly he dances with Klara and then his date is Karabo, possibly a black girl. This is something else the other men don’t seem to like – they mourn the “better days” when N’s date would not have been a black woman.
The situation deteriorates as people become inebriated and the party breaks up in a fight after which the battered party goers leave.
This poem manages to describe a topical social situation in a few eloquent lines. It doesn’t waste time to laboriously describe the racial and social tensions in society. Instead it suggests these by giving the characters in the poem telling names – Fanus and Karabo, for instance. The use of the lines from the ad (eish) and from the song are used expertly to state the case.
The waltz “Kom dans Klaradyn” is an epitome of the cultural values of Afrikaans society of three generations ago. The lines from the ad is a brilliant juxtaposition, showing how Afrikaner culture is beginning to be integrated in a wider South African culture – the “eish”, an expression originating from the black languages, becomes the Afrikaans “ys” in the brandy.
This is a well-constructed poem that impresses with its economy of expression and the way it highlight aspects of our present society.