Dennis Brutus – anti-aparthied activist, poet, professor and family man amongst others – passed on in his sleep today…. An excerpt from the family statement:
Dennis lived his life as so many would wish to, in service to the causes of justice, peace, freedom and the protection of the planet. He remained positive about the future, believing that popular movements will achieve their aims.
Dennis’ poetry, particularly of his prison experiences on Robben Island, has been taught in schools around the world. He was modest about his work, always trying to improve on his drafts.
His poem – A troubadour I traverse – from the anthology A simple lust – is one of my favourite poems. I’ve taken the liberty to reproduce the full text here.. in appeciation of his unique influence….
A troubadour, I traverse all my land
Exploring all her wide – flung part with zest
Probing in motion sweeter far than rest
Her secret thickets with an amorous hand
And I have laughed, disdaining those who banned inquiry and movement, delighting in the test
Of will when doomed by saracened arrest,
Choosing, like unarmed thumb, simply to stand
Thus quixoting till a cast – off of my land
I sing and fare, person to loved – one pressed braced for this pressure and the captors hand
That snaps off service like a weathered strand.
– no mistress – favour adorned my breast
Only the shadow of an arrow brand.