Half-Ballade Of Waterval

by


When by the labour of my 'ands 
I've 'elped to pack a transport tight 
With prisoners for foreign lands, 
I ain't transported with delight. 

I know it's only just an' right, 
But yet it somehow sickens me, 
For I 'ave learned at Waterval 
The meanin' of captivity. 

Be'ind the pegged barb-wire strands, 
Beneath the tall electric light, 
We used to walk in bare-'ead bands, 
Explainin' 'ow we lost our fight; 

An' that is what they'll do to-night 
Upon the steamer out at sea, 
If I 'ave learned at Waterval 
The meanin' of captivity. 

They'll never know the shame that brands, 
Black shame no livin' down makes white, 
The mockin' from the sentry-stands, 
The women's laugh, the gaoler's spite. 

We are too bloomin'-much polite, 
But that is 'ow I'd 'ave us be... 
Since I 'ave learned at Waterval 
The meanin' of captivity. 

They'll get those draggin' days all right, 
Spent as a foreigner commands, 
An' 'orrors of the locked-up night, 
With 'Ell's own thinkin' on their 'ands. 

I'd give the gold o' twenty Rands 
(If it was mine) to set 'em free, 
For I 'ave learned at Waterval 
The meanin' of captivity!

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