A Plea for the Great Karoo

lowplea0001Words by Andrew McNaughton

Photographs by Chris Marais

Arid, ancient landscape, once an inland sea

A continental jigsaw sent masses drifting free

Molten magma spewing, a crucible of fire

Preserving remnant forms captured in the mire


Long gone lakes, drained to a treeless plain

River-gouged gorges and sculpted rocks remain

Spawning life designs more resilient than the norm

Adaptations, meeting ice and sun and storm

 

Freezing winter grips, and tortures in its hold

Brittle iron boulders, splitting from their mould

Relentless summer heat, drought a constant dread

Dead and blackened stems crackle under tread

 

Sun in rising fury, retreating shadows fly

Rims of purple mountains, delineate the sky

Faintest puff of wind, or touch of passing air

Brings scents of summers past in memory to bear

 

Swirling dusty spirals, dancing in the distance

Soft-imagined sounds, accentuate the silence

Stately castles loom, shimmering water shines

Mirages of the mind false imagery defines

 

Sweet smell of early morning, perfume to the senses

A carousel of seasons, diversity dispenses

Rose complexioned day, transforming into gold

Uncounted bright arrays and galaxies unfold

 

Exploding storms of thunder, sudden pounding rain

Releasing earthy fragrance, relieving all our pain

Muddy rivers roar, chirping crickets sing

Joyful springbok pronk and insects on the wing

 

Greening and forgiving, a kaleidoscope of colour

Flower fields emerge, more exquisite than each other

Immeasurable arena, endless open space

Time does not imprison, nature does not haste

 

Spirits rise beyond, acquired worldly ways

Purpose comes to thought and meaning to the days

Shedding all pretension and rid of self-taught lies

We stand in awe-struck wonder, at this cathedral of the skies

 

Visions of the future, how we might arrange

The making of a better world, through unselfish change

Jealous of its secrets, still disfigured by our greed

The Great Karoo lies silent, pleading for our heed

Andrew’s poem also appears in the September 2013 issue of Rose’s Roundup, a fascinating monthly newsletter on the Karoo compiled by Rose Willis, writer and popular historian.

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