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Who was Lizzie Van Zyl

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Below is the poem entitled Who was Lizzie Van Zyl which was written by poet steven cooke. Please feel free to comment on this poem. However, please remember, PoetrySoup is a place of encouragement and growth.

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Who was Lizzie Van Zyl

Who was Lizzie Van Zyl?
A small girl stands on Woodcock Bridge
Pointing at her reflection in the water.
The glint from the sun, and a cold wind,
Distorts a distant memory of gold, and places long forgotten.

For the bridge and the girl are forever linked
The bricks paid for with the blood of babes
The mortar mixed with  innocence and suffering

For this little girl is Lizzie Van Zyl
Once a happy child, taken from her farm
Through tears, saw her house destroyed and  livestock slaughtered
Even her beloved dog.

Taken to sleep on the ground, slowly starved
And left to winters kill.
Her last comfort a pile of rags to die on
Her last words “Mother, Mother, I want to go to my Mother”
Thrown into a pit,
To join a multitude of innocents, in the name of progress

Bloemfontein killed with deliberate neglect,
And the bullet killed her father at Woodcock.
Another victory for empires glory

Lizzie’s crime was her fathers, for he wanted freedom,
Democracy,  and a future for his family 
But Greed and empire gave birth to new words
For here the Concentration Camp came to be,
Propaganda too,
A world kept secret from prying eyes.

But Secrets come out and greed fuels the beast
Bloemfontein gave birth to Auschwitz, Dachau, Treblinka,
Oh and so many more,
Different lands, same outcome
An Oasis for Evil, 
A place where the dark side of humanity can live.

A haunting realisation too,
 That England, has tarnished the code of chivalry,
And brought shame to the flag. 

Little Lizzie still Stands on the bridge
Her reflection is still pointing, not at herself
But at you and me
For it is we who did this, and it is we who will do it again,
So glance at your wedding band
For the glint might just blind you to its past,
And pray that Lizzie does not become your daughter.

Quote from a Journalist
Cowardice of the most loathsome cure on earth - the act of striking at a brave man's heart through his wife's honour and his child's life."

Footnote to the write
This write is about the Boer war and the tactics that the British used to achieve victory
LizzieVan Zyl was seen by Emily Hobhouse just before she died. Her memoirs reveal the conditions that Lizzie was subjected to.

The atrocities committed in South Africa were kept secret from the British public.
 As a result the final victory led to Bridges being named after engagements such as Woodcock and Ladysmith.
England is littered with place names, linked to battles. 
Perhaps place names where you live have a surprising story to tell.



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  1. Date: 10/21/2011 8:22:00 AM
    Hi Steven, never get tired of reading these amazing stories you put together. Could sip a British pint with you as I read!

  1. Date: 10/12/2011 7:21:00 PM
    Tis a sorry tale told again with your passionate feelings bringing truth to attention. I sounds like the concentration camps hitler devised too and no country took the condemmed in. We are all to blame. As usual, the depth of your work probes the mind with uncomfortable thought. Truly great Steven!!!