Drummer Hodge

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A collection of Boer poetry and script. The writing appears prose from the translated Boer poetic lines. From Drummer Hodge: The Poetry of the Anglo-Boer War (1899-1902), by M. van Wyk Smith. ISBN 0198120826 (1978)


  • The South Pole blows and shapes a wintry blast from which the migrant bird flees in haste and terror. His cold breath hurtles round every corner, seeking out all that's green to taunt it with death, until all is in mourning.
    • W. A. S. Nel of Ventersdorp, Orange Free State
  • Were it to happen that you should die, they will sing in praise of you; they will pick flowers on the hills to plant round your still dust.
    • E. E. Meyer
  • Red morrow! Red morrow! It promises me surely an early death when the war trumpets blow, the battle will maim me cruelly, me and many a comrade. So soon! So soon! My life will be brought to its end – only yesterday mounted on horseback; presently fallen on the battlefield; by to-morrow in the cool grave.
    • Anonymous
  • The troops and the volunteers storm onwards like lions; they have won; cheers upon cheers; it's one great hold of triumph.
    • Anonymous Boer soldier
  • Here lies one, heavily wounded; there lies one, quite dead; another lies open-mouthed, moaning with thirst.
    • P. J. Muller
  • For three months I've been wasting my time in a hotel. The food and pudding and champagne are all very well, but just think of the chances I'm missing in the Golden City!
    • monologue of a Rand speculator
  • The great General C. R. de Wet was still too small for a khaki net.
    • Revd. J. F. Naude
  • Two hundred Long Toms and a pipe, one cartridge belt and rifle, a bottle of Scotch – you know the brand – they brought along with them.
    • Joubert Reitz
  • We thought we were going home, so we tied our bundles across our backs. At one o'clock we went to the gate; I thought the men were going crazy: they laughed, chattered, wept all at once. My heart ached, it was too terrible.
    • C. D. Oberholzer
  • As far as the food is concerned, if you really want to know: curried rice and troops' sweat, bitter coffee and sour bread; only a Jew can stomach the meat.
    • C. D. Oberholzer
  • My breakfast and my dinner have been in the sea some time, and tomorrow I'll be following – wrapped in sacks, with iron bars tied to my feet – to feed the sharks. Do tell your mama what a hard time I had, and how bitterly I suffered for my country and my people.
    • Gideon J. van Riet
  • It was breathlessly still on the lonely veld after the clamour and fierce violence of a terrible fight; only now and then could one hear an anxious sigh, a last word from one about to die.
    • Mauritz van der Merwe
  • One has a back that makes him groan, pull faces, and walk doubled over; another has a head with a sore on it that leaves him dumb with pain.
    • J. H. L. Schumann
  • So you run off to the doctor to get some comfort; 'Old Little Bit Better' is his name; the fellow can curse most awfully. All he says is: 'Put out your tongue!' And then he gives you a drink, ladled out of a bucket; it's the same for stomach ache, blindness, and lameness.
    • Anonymous
  • And furthermore, friends, we got from this damned lot a little bowl as big as my hat. When first we received them we had a big argument: were they for drinking or for washing?
    • Anonymous
  • His eye, once so sharp, determined, meaningful, is now deeply sunken, tearful, and glows no more. His pale and trembling lip, moved by his heart, mutely tells the measure of his bitter woe. His wrinkled forehead shows how deeply disaster's plough has drawn its furrows and scored him to the quick.
    • J. N. Brink
  • Here I sit on Bermuda's shore, with a shattered and exiled from my fatherland. O God, what bitter sorrow.
    • Anonymous
  • Don't you see the blue mountains where our friends were sold, caught by the enemy and sent far away?
    • Revd. George Thom
  • And many have lost courage and sought safety with the enemy – have devoured their own brothers' blood. O disgrace without measure.
    • J. C. van Zyl
  • Notwithstanding the hard times, many found much happiness in Thee; yes, many a man is saying to himself: 'It was good to have been here.'
    • Mauritz van der Merwe
  • Through powder and fire and hail and lead we have to struggle till we are dead.
    • Miss Hester Kotze
  • When we go to the ration hall there is a great clamour; we have to push and shove to snatch our food. Oh, we have to stand and stare until we feel like death – some have to wait there till sunset. If we go to the nurse, we have to wait outside. She makes us use an interpreter; she thinks we are her servants. Just listen to her latest quirk: she claims Boer breath makes her sick. She is so angry with us that she has had her house fenced in.
    • Mrs. Hester Magrieta van Zyl
  • Oh, the lips that bleakly beg for a drink of water, – wounds that burn! Unheard, unheeded, many a sorrowful cry sounds where the turmoil of battle thunders across the hills.
    • Jan F. E. Celliers
  • It is the winter wind that blows, wailing all night long, wailing for the far-off day; the branches toss, the boughs sway, it is the winter wind that blows... And the winds of winter sing a song of loneliness and silent sorrow; echo-less their lament dies away over the empty veld in the night, sighing through the grass seeds, and drawn is far away.
    • Eugene Marais
  • Like a mountain, unbowed, broad and block-built – that is he! The face, blow by blow hacked from a cliff; every nick, every bruise the stroke of harsh fate; every notch, every mark freedom's enemy's work – that is he!
    • Jan F. E. Celliers, referring to Paul Kruger
  • Alas, that they peered into the world too soon, too soon, and that a sudden frosty night closed upon them...Now they are all lying there, all of them, blossoms under sods, and sleep the quiet, quiet sleep of the dear small dead.
    • Revd. J. D. du Toit
  • Then, nebulously, a long white line of shapes come drifting by, loosely and thinly wrapped in veils; some small and far away, others quite close. – Through the soul, wide open, the gale of anguish blows!
    • Revd. J. D. du Toit
  • Accept that which I – who never had the chance to take the last step demanded by love – have built from small fragments into a token of respect: an insignificant series of rhymes – my poem.
    • C. Louis Leipoldt
  • Siembamba, Siembamba, mama's little darling, Siembamba! Whooping cough and consumption, and no milk: bitter for you is the cup of life! There is your place, there among the graves – two in one coffin, a loving couple!
    • C. Louis Leipoldt
  • Here you sit and shy from the wind that sucks, ice-cold, through the tent's canvas torn by hail – your only shelter at night against the falling rain. The June-chill pours over the Vaal; you only hear the cough of your child and the lazy drip of raindrops on the tent pole.
    • C. Louis Leipoldt

See also