Theo van Beck

return to sonnet central return to South African  sonnets

In Zululand

Morning in Zululand. I was awake
Ere yet the sun the voiceless hill-tops kissed.
Far in the distance, like a fog-dimmed lake,
The bosom of a mountain, with the mist
Hanging above it; on its highest hold,
A ruin, grand in famished wilderness,
Like some romantic castle tower of old,
Blue, solitary, silent, tenantless.
Now decks the sun the Eastern sky with gold,
Now with a golden diadem has crowned
The stately turret; awe-rapt, I behold
His gilded rays the silver mist confound,
With longings undefined, yet past control,
In silent meditation of the soul.

Out of the Mist-land

Out of the mist-land of the Past come back,
And hold my hand in silence, smile on me
Just once to cheer me on the lonely track
That leads from sorrow to uncertainty.
Where art thou now? Ah, love, how can I say,
Perchance in some far world I may not see.
As many ocean waves have rolled away
As all the years that hide thee far from me.
Yet I have known thee once full long ago,
The evening winds bring echoes of our love,
The twilight-drooping flowers do tell me so,
And the imagined murmuring above.
And to my spirit thou art ever real,
Who wert, and art, and shalt be mine ideal.

In Exile

As these far-reaching sands my life is drear
And mournful as the murmur of the deep
And changeless ocean. But they come in sleep,
My loving kinsmen from afar, and bear
To kindly sleep's dream-laden atmosphere
A fond illusion for my heart to keep
Like a rich boat gale-blown when tides are neap,
Afraid to lose it, holding it so dear.

'Tis then she comes, and with love-radiant eyes,
And with a little cry she leans on me,
And for a moment all my soul swings free--
Swings free to journey back life's listless stream.
But all too soon, alas, the slumber dies
Of one who longs for an eternal dream.

Farewell, My Lady

Farewell, my lady, and bright star, good-bye!
My soul would find its immortality,
My love, uncrownéd, on death's wings would fly
To seek its laurel in Eternity.
Hope softly falls from gardens of the sky,
Whose soil is darkness, and whose blossoms light,
Falls softly in the murmured melody,
Borne earthward by the dewy winds of night.
O winds, that in the kingdom of yon mist
Sing to the flowers and all their secrets bear,
Inform my heart, now while the world is kissed
To listless silence, dwells contentment there?
Do loving dreams inhabit That Domain,
Where I would end this flight to dream again?