In the dark lanes of Soweto,amid the mud, the slush, the squalor,among the rusty tin shacksthe lust for freedom survives stubbornlylike a smoldering defiant flameand the spirit of Steve Biko moves easily.
Auden's poem "Spain 1937" is a particular point of reference in another poem by Brutus - "Love; he Struggle." When Auden writes "To-morrow he rediscovery of romantic love ... but to-day the struggle," Brutus paraphrases this radical postponement with his own dialectic of personal freedom and political necessity:
Conched, contrapuntal our concordDay's breath wracks our peace,Our dreams disrupt in blustery discordBuckling to winds' capricious buffet we desert our calms- Ah love, unshoulder now my arms!
Like the early Auden, Brutus also sees his role as that of a public poet, "the world's troubadour" as he describes himself, one who seeks to give a voice to those whom the system has silenced. There is therefore in Brutus's poetry an implicit sense of radical dialogue with people whose lives remain outside the focus of the established media. This is where the real struggle s taking place, and it is within this context of solidarity with the dispossessed that Brutus has always situated himself as a writer:
An old black woman,suffering,tells me I have given her"new images"- a father bereavedby radical heroismfinds consolationin my verse.then I knowthese are those I write forand my verse works.
- Ronal Paul, from a review of Poetry and Protest: A Dennis Brutus Reader that originally appeared in Socialism and Democracy, issue 21, and has been reprinted if full at AfricaResource.