As the West winds blew their fury
the earth let out a cry;
as if to deny expected truth,
it was more than just a sigh.
As if one life had greater value
than all of this; all of the love
that a world full of great lives
could bear to contemplate
the loss of a legend, but
whose wisdom remains immortal …
How many years in a small, small room
with the same view through the bars.
How many years of breaking stone
and a broken view of the stars.
How many years of prayer and pain,
to grow his wings and fly,
like soaring eagle, dancing crane,
over mountains in the sky.
How many years to find his truth,
empowering his legacy; to heal
the torment of a nation.
How long did it take to forge his spirit,
imbue his captors’ tears
with the power of his forgiveness
after twenty seven years.
© 2014 John Anstie
[Nelson Mandela’s incarceration lasted for 27 years. At 72 years of age, 8 years older than I am now, he started a new life as leader of his country; and what immense leadership was necessary to hold together a very angry population, some sections of which would have been bent on revenge. His previous life ended in prison at the age of 45, in 1963, for being an anti Apartheid activist. I find the thought of being locked up for 27 years and surviving this, not only physically and mentally, but also able to lead a divided country, almost overwhelmingly daunting and utterly remarkable]