Spotlighting Pan-African Poetry

Biography

A Graduation Poem for a Son

Enlarge poem

1
I hope you never sweat your blood
For no mean corporation,
I hope you never fire a shot
For warring faith or nation.

I hope you never have to please
A two-faced politician,
I pray you never make a god
Of money and ambition.

I hope you never work so hard
You lose your sense of fun.
What’s life without a joke and laugh,
A day out in the sun?

So take your learning to the world
But live to sing a song,
And may you always be as wise
and gentle as you’re strong.
2
I know you’ll brush aside the hand
That’s held out for a bribe,
I know you’ll see the human being
Before the race or tribe.

I know you’ll learn to live content
With what you can afford,
I trust you’ll pass on to your kids
That virtue is its own reward.

I pray you never cease to hope
Right through the hardest year
And walk in awe below the stars
And scorn a cynic’s sneer.

And may you learn from my mistakes
And where the past went wrong,
And may you always be as wise
And gentle as you’re strong.

3
I hope your generation makes
The fragile planet last
And never runs in rags to flee
An eco-holocaust.

I hope you cleanse the fumes of hell
From cars and chimney stacks
Yet learn to make as many jobs
As folk who starve in shacks.

The mind’s a sky of flying thoughts,
Where they roost you belong,
So may you always be as wise
And gentle as you’re strong.

4
I know you’ll stand your sacred ground
Despite your education,
Lord knows so many clever folk
Are skilled at desecration.

I hope you’ll pray enough each day
To free love’s calm within,
I hope your soul’s a house of shades
For foreign folk and kin.

And may the dove of Noah’s ark
Sing in your adult song,
And may you always be, my son,
As wise and gentle as you’re strong.

Chris Mann

Featured Poem:

The Parliament Within

Enlarge poem

We do not see deeply unless with love
and deepest and clearest among our insights
are those which steeped in love’s energy
accumulate clarity in contemplative calm.

Such brooding serenity allows the self
to convene the shades alive in the soul,
to quieten the bombastic, hearten the shy
and bid the elderly and neglected speak.

In turn, these partners and companions,
mentors, opponents and even enemies
converse with each other and the self,
which listens, responds and negotiates.

This reconciliation, of shades and self,
flows on and separates and flows again
in sleep and dream as well as in thought,
with balance and not perfection its goal.

Democracy will always be shallow
until it’s ensconced within our souls.
We cannot make peace with each other
until we make peace with our shades.

How does this featured poem make you feel?

  • Amazement (2)
  • Pride (2)
  • Optimism (1)
  • Anger (1)
  • Delight (1)
  • Inspiration (1)
  • Reflection (1)
  • Captivation (0)
  • Peace (1)
  • Amusement (3)
  • Sorrow (0)
  • Vigour (1)
  • Hope (0)
  • Sadness (0)
  • Fear (1)
  • Jubilation (0)

Comments

  1. i’m a young writer, searching for inspiration and your poems give me that. please email me, i will really love backup for a talented writer as you. thank you.

    utie
  2. Hi

    Sorry – I’ve been on tour in the UK and have only just seen your comment above.

    Please contact me and I’ll see what I can do to help.

    Chris ‘Zithulele’ Mann

    Chris 'Zithulele' Mann

Your email address will not be published.

Biography

Chris Mann, a South African of English, Dutch and Irish descent, was born in Port Elizabeth in the Eastern Cape. He started his working life in rural development and poverty alleviation projects, such as low-cost water-supply and sanitation, small-scale agriculture and labour-intensive public works including secondary road and pipeline construction. This multi-faceted, multi-talented writer has also taught English in a rural school, lectured in English at Rhodes University and worked in teacher development and job creation. He has volunteered for various trusts, has been a parish councillor and was a founder and song-writer of Zabalaza, a cross-culture band performing in English and Zulu.

His formal education includes a BA from Wits majoring in English and Philosophy, an MA from the School of Oriental and African Languages (London) in African Oral Literature and an MA from Oxford in English Language and Literature. Now based at the Institute for the Study of English in Africa at Rhodes University in Grahamstown, he is the founder and convenor of Wordfest, a national multilingual festival of South African languages and literatures with a developmental emphasis. Chris Mann’s poems have appeared in a wide range of journals, textbooks and anthologies in South Africa and abroad. He performs his work at various festivals, schools, churches, universities and conferences around the country as part of a life-long passion to promote poetry in the public domain. Able to converse in Afrikaans, Zulu and Xhosa, Mann writes poetry influenced by the richness of the different languages he speaks and which reflects the diverse work experiences and social encounters he has had. Keenly narrative, his poems convey to the reader the textural details of the South African landscape and the intimacy of its people. As he examines his own spirituality, which appears rooted in the history, place and potential that is contemporary South Africa, his practical musicianship emerges clearly in the lilting lyricism and rhythm of his poetry.

Chris Mann

Biography

Chris Mann, a South African of English, Dutch and Irish descent, was born in Port Elizabeth in the Eastern Cape. He started his working life in rural development and poverty alleviation projects, such as low-cost water-supply and sanitation, small-scale agriculture and labour-intensive public works including secondary road and pipeline construction. This multi-faceted, multi-talented writer has also taught English in a rural school, lectured in English at Rhodes University and worked in teacher development and job creation. He has volunteered for various trusts, has been a parish councillor and was a founder and song-writer of Zabalaza, a cross-culture band performing in English and Zulu.

His formal education includes a BA from Wits majoring in English and Philosophy, an MA from the School of Oriental and African Languages (London) in African Oral Literature and an MA from Oxford in English Language and Literature. Now based at the Institute for the Study of English in Africa at Rhodes University in Grahamstown, he is the founder and convenor of Wordfest, a national multilingual festival of South African languages and literatures with a developmental emphasis. Chris Mann’s poems have appeared in a wide range of journals, textbooks and anthologies in South Africa and abroad. He performs his work at various festivals, schools, churches, universities and conferences around the country as part of a life-long passion to promote poetry in the public domain. Able to converse in Afrikaans, Zulu and Xhosa, Mann writes poetry influenced by the richness of the different languages he speaks and which reflects the diverse work experiences and social encounters he has had. Keenly narrative, his poems convey to the reader the textural details of the South African landscape and the intimacy of its people. As he examines his own spirituality, which appears rooted in the history, place and potential that is contemporary South Africa, his practical musicianship emerges clearly in the lilting lyricism and rhythm of his poetry.

A Graduation Poem for a Son

Enlarge poem

1
I hope you never sweat your blood
For no mean corporation,
I hope you never fire a shot
For warring faith or nation.

I hope you never have to please
A two-faced politician,
I pray you never make a god
Of money and ambition.

I hope you never work so hard
You lose your sense of fun.
What’s life without a joke and laugh,
A day out in the sun?

So take your learning to the world
But live to sing a song,
And may you always be as wise
and gentle as you’re strong.
2
I know you’ll brush aside the hand
That’s held out for a bribe,
I know you’ll see the human being
Before the race or tribe.

I know you’ll learn to live content
With what you can afford,
I trust you’ll pass on to your kids
That virtue is its own reward.

I pray you never cease to hope
Right through the hardest year
And walk in awe below the stars
And scorn a cynic’s sneer.

And may you learn from my mistakes
And where the past went wrong,
And may you always be as wise
And gentle as you’re strong.

3
I hope your generation makes
The fragile planet last
And never runs in rags to flee
An eco-holocaust.

I hope you cleanse the fumes of hell
From cars and chimney stacks
Yet learn to make as many jobs
As folk who starve in shacks.

The mind’s a sky of flying thoughts,
Where they roost you belong,
So may you always be as wise
And gentle as you’re strong.

4
I know you’ll stand your sacred ground
Despite your education,
Lord knows so many clever folk
Are skilled at desecration.

I hope you’ll pray enough each day
To free love’s calm within,
I hope your soul’s a house of shades
For foreign folk and kin.

And may the dove of Noah’s ark
Sing in your adult song,
And may you always be, my son,
As wise and gentle as you’re strong.

Featured Poem:

The Parliament Within

Enlarge poem

We do not see deeply unless with love
and deepest and clearest among our insights
are those which steeped in love’s energy
accumulate clarity in contemplative calm.

Such brooding serenity allows the self
to convene the shades alive in the soul,
to quieten the bombastic, hearten the shy
and bid the elderly and neglected speak.

In turn, these partners and companions,
mentors, opponents and even enemies
converse with each other and the self,
which listens, responds and negotiates.

This reconciliation, of shades and self,
flows on and separates and flows again
in sleep and dream as well as in thought,
with balance and not perfection its goal.

Democracy will always be shallow
until it’s ensconced within our souls.
We cannot make peace with each other
until we make peace with our shades.

How does this featured poem make you feel?

  • Amazement (2)
  • Pride (2)
  • Optimism (1)
  • Anger (1)
  • Delight (1)
  • Inspiration (1)
  • Reflection (1)
  • Captivation (0)
  • Peace (1)
  • Amusement (3)
  • Sorrow (0)
  • Vigour (1)
  • Hope (0)
  • Sadness (0)
  • Fear (1)
  • Jubilation (0)

A Graduation Poem for a Son

Enlarge poem

1
I hope you never sweat your blood
For no mean corporation,
I hope you never fire a shot
For warring faith or nation.

I hope you never have to please
A two-faced politician,
I pray you never make a god
Of money and ambition.

I hope you never work so hard
You lose your sense of fun.
What’s life without a joke and laugh,
A day out in the sun?

So take your learning to the world
But live to sing a song,
And may you always be as wise
and gentle as you’re strong.
2
I know you’ll brush aside the hand
That’s held out for a bribe,
I know you’ll see the human being
Before the race or tribe.

I know you’ll learn to live content
With what you can afford,
I trust you’ll pass on to your kids
That virtue is its own reward.

I pray you never cease to hope
Right through the hardest year
And walk in awe below the stars
And scorn a cynic’s sneer.

And may you learn from my mistakes
And where the past went wrong,
And may you always be as wise
And gentle as you’re strong.

3
I hope your generation makes
The fragile planet last
And never runs in rags to flee
An eco-holocaust.

I hope you cleanse the fumes of hell
From cars and chimney stacks
Yet learn to make as many jobs
As folk who starve in shacks.

The mind’s a sky of flying thoughts,
Where they roost you belong,
So may you always be as wise
And gentle as you’re strong.

4
I know you’ll stand your sacred ground
Despite your education,
Lord knows so many clever folk
Are skilled at desecration.

I hope you’ll pray enough each day
To free love’s calm within,
I hope your soul’s a house of shades
For foreign folk and kin.

And may the dove of Noah’s ark
Sing in your adult song,
And may you always be, my son,
As wise and gentle as you’re strong.

Comments

  1. i’m a young writer, searching for inspiration and your poems give me that. please email me, i will really love backup for a talented writer as you. thank you.

    utie
  2. Hi

    Sorry – I’ve been on tour in the UK and have only just seen your comment above.

    Please contact me and I’ll see what I can do to help.

    Chris ‘Zithulele’ Mann

    Chris 'Zithulele' Mann

Your email address will not be published.