Umhlaba owondla umuntu
oluvovwe itswayi wuqhembu
imbade esiswini sesibhakabhaka gebhezi.
lwenyuka ngamaphiko egolide
phezu kwempilo ephansi.
Umnyama umgodi wembongi,
Imvukuzane evukuza ingekho
intunja yokungena nentuba yokuphuma.
HIGH AND LOW
Glorious is this world
The world that sustains man
like a maggot in a carcass.
Mighty is the sea
de-salted by the carapace in the eye of the fish.
Hallowed is the star,
effulgent in the firmament,
a pearl in the stomach of the mussel sky.
Majestic soars the eagle, golden winged above the
Black is the hole of the poet,
A mole burrowing from no entrance to no exit.
Editor's Note: Sounds of a Cowhide Drum was first published in English in 1971 by Lionel Abrahams. The 2012 re-issue of the book carries a simultaneous translation of the poems into Zulu.