PN Review Print and Online Poetry Magazine
Most Read... Rebecca WattsThe Cult of the Noble Amateur
(PN Review 239)
Mark FordLetters And So It Goes
Letters from Young Mr Grace
(aka John Ashbery)

(PN Review 239)
Henry Kingon Toby Martinez de las Rivas
(PN Review 244)
Eavan BolandA Lyric Voice at Bay
(PN Review 121)
Vahni CapildeoOn Judging Prizes, & Reading More than Six Really Good Books
(PN Review 237)
M. Wynn ThomasThe Other Side of the Hedge
(PN Review 239)
Next Issue Fire and Tears: a meditation, VAHNI CAPILDEO Grodzinksi’s Kosher Bakery and other poems, MICHAEL BRETT Vienna, MARIUS KOCIEJOWSKI In conversation with John Ash, JEFFREY KAHRS Play it all the way through, first – but slowly, KIRTSY GUNN
Poems Articles Interviews Reports Reviews Contributors
PNR 250 Poetry Archive Banner
Monthly Carcanet Books
PN Review Blog

This poem is taken from PN Review 124, Volume 25 Number 2, November - December 1998.

Ntsikana's Bell Guy Butler

I

When exiled Moses was tending sheep in the desert
God spoke to him through something a shepherd
would understand, a bush ablaze with life.

When Ntsikana went to look at his cattle
God spoke to him through a flash of the dawning sun
striking the side of Hulushe his favourite ox.

Strange things happened. Whirlwinds interrupted
his dancing. But he said nothing. Words must wait.
All day he stood at the gate of his cattle kraal.

His people wondered. They heard him softly humming,
humming a chant such as no one had ever heard.
Ele le le home, hom, hom -

a sound that came from an endless quietness,
deeper than the wells of words, above
the clouds where music breeds, home, home -

At last came the words themselves: not spoken, sung
from the heart, an izibongo for Thixo,1
...


Searching, please wait... animated waiting image