Lady One: Of Love and Other Poems

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Harcourt, 2002 - Poetry - 84 pages
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Please deliver me, Lady, of prattle and cant
As I bury one hundred years of war and want

Evoking an extraordinary range of settings and images--from "Africa where blood blackens / and tiny desert creatures have to lick / the dew from their flanks to survive" to the havens of exile, and the "snow once again over Paris / this morning sheeting light / under grey blankets"--this searching verse explores love and loss, light and darkness, war and want, and wounds that do not heal. The texture of nostalgic, sometimes bitter memories of childhood in Breytenbach's African homeland is as palpable here as the vigorous exultation of love found amid the ruins of an earlier life. And pervading all the experience rendered is a sense of wonder and awe that "the light lies silvery smooth / in the furrows dug by the farmer / to lead astray the drought / and bring succour to the runner beans, / the maize, tomatoes, melons, peppers, / onions, garlic, potatoes / and love."

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the opening poem
the withering of the state
mene mene tekel

About the author (2002)

Breyten Breytenbach was born in Bonnievale, South Africa, in 1939. He settled in Paris, where he met and married Yolande Ngo Thi Hoang Lien (to whom Lady One is dedicated). In 1975, after returning to South Africa illegally, he was caught and imprisoned. He was released in 1982, and The True Confessions of an Albino Terrorist, a memoir of his prison years, appeared in 1985. Breytenbach lives in Paris and New York.

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