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Lines Prompted by N. P. van Wyk Louw’s “Ballad of the Drinker in His Pub”*


You sat drinking Castle beer, quart by quart,

with rugby droning on the radio,

in the Café Royal, while out in the road,

all afternoon the sun declined, sinking

in the former world, already dead, times

“finish en klaar,” as they put it now, brained

by the Broederbond’s sempiternal crap,

then drowned in the ANC’s fraternal privy.

Behind the bar the bottles gleam in rows;

how predictably red the barman’s nose—

but random rhymes are not what I propose:

History doesn’t repeat itself, it scans;

in Parliament, not quite across the street,

they make new plans for parallels to meet.



*“Die Ballade van die Drinker in Sy Kroeg” is the Afrikaans title. In common South African parlance, mixing up the languages, as people like to do, “finish en klaar” means “finished and done with.”


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