Bad times sometimes bring forth beauty. 1987 in South Africa was just about the worst of times; it was a year of brutal repression, anger, terror, a state of emergency, despair and madness... but also Weeping , still one of the most perfect songs this country ever produced. It was recorded and released by Cape Town band Bright Blue in that year; for some reason it escaped the censors, despite including several bars of the struggle anthem Nkosi Sikelel' iAfrica, and reached the top of the charts. It was released on an album called The Rising Tide which is very, very hard to get hold of now, but the song lives: in 1997, ten years and more history than anyone would have thought possible later, Vusi Mahlasela revived it on his third album Silang Mabele , which is still easy to find. The song is far more than the lyrics, of course, but the lyrics are worth recording:

Weeping

I knew a man who lived in fear
It was huge, it was angry, it was drawing near
Behind his house, a secret place
Was the shadow of a demon he could never face.

He built a wall of steel and flame
And men with guns to keep it tame
Then, standing back, he made it plain
That the nightmare would never ever rise again
But the fear and the fire and the guns remain.

It doesn’t matter now
It’s over anyhow
He tells the world that it’s sleeping
But as the night came round
I heard its lonely sound
It wasn’t roaring, it was weeping.

And then one day, the neighbours came
They were curious to know about the smoke and flame
They stood around outside the wall
But of course there was nothing to be heard at all.

"My friends", he said, "we've reached our goal
The threat is under firm control
As long as peace and order reign
I’ll be damned if I can see a reason to explain
Why the fear and the fire and the guns remain".

It doesn't matter now
It's over anyhow
He tells the world that it's sleeping
But as the night came round
I heard its lonely sound
It wasn't roaring it was weeping
It wasn't roaring it was weeping.

Weep"ing, n.

The act of one who weeps; lamentation with tears; shedding of tears.

 

© Webster 1913.


Weep"ing, a.

1.

Grieving; lamenting; shedding tears.

"Weeping eyes."

I. Watts.

2.

Discharging water, or other liquid, in drops or very slowly; surcharged with water.

"Weeping grounds."

Mortimer.

3.

Having slender, pendent branches; -- said of trees; as, weeping willow; a weeping ash.

4.

Pertaining to lamentation, or those who weep.

Weeping cross, a cross erected on or by the highway, especially for the devotions of penitents; hence, to return by the weeping cross, to return from some undertaking in humiliation or penitence. -- Weeping rock, a porous rock from which water gradually issues. -- Weeping sinew, a ganglion. See Ganglion, n., 2. [Colloq.] -- Weeping spring, a spring that discharges water slowly. -- Weeping willow Bot., a species of willow (Salix Babylonica) whose branches grow very long and slender, and hang down almost perpendicularly.

<-- Illustr. of Weeping willow. -->

 

© Webster 1913.

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