Tag Archives: wondering

Malikhanye by Mxolisi Nyezwa



Malikhanye is a poetry collection. I stumbled across it at Adams book shop sale. I paged through it and was instantly captured. I have mixed feelings about poetry; it can be so dense and opaque that I am lost; the words bounce against my brain and collapse back in an incomprehensible heap. These poems however penetrate my mind and my emotions like moisture in the air.

Malikhanye means ‘let it shine’, a beautiful name in itself. It is also the name given to his son who died at the age of 3 months. The poems in the third section express feelings of loss and grief.

Many of the poems, to some extent, express loss, grief and bewilderment though there are some that express love and yearning. The way he juxtaposes the ethereal and the concrete, the natural world and the modern world widens the crack between conscious and unconscious thought. Love and violence, tenderness and cruelty – the human condition captured but not caged.

‘To know you’ is one of my favourites; it expresses all the ways in which the narrator wants to know the loved one. This is a small sample:

i want to know you like a frightened man / like a comma / in a book / with no green shops / no drunken heroes / with three hundred smoking letters / with simple phrases

i want to know you like a woman of indeterminate curves / and simple sighs / and glorious angles  /to eat you like bread

The poet uses the first person but never capitalised; does this denote a universal ‘i’ or is it another way of expressing how small and helpless he feels on this inexplicable world we live in?

Who of us have not wondered this?

i want to know how the sea flows / how the winds blow / and how love is abandoned / why things have to happen like this / oh! so over and over again 

Haunting and mesmerising, lyrical – find this collection if you can.