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The poet's mother decided to create a herb garden for her son. She planted various herbs and tended
them so carefully that it became a luscious garden of remembrance after she had died.
ABOUT THE POET
Stephen Gray was born in Cape Town in 1941. He schooled at St Andrew's College in Grahamstown
before enrolling at the University of Cape Town for his initial degree. He then proceeded to Cambridge
University for his Masters, followed by a Masters in Fine Arts at the University of Iowa.
He finally researched for a Doctorate in Literature and Philosophy at the Rand Afrikaans University - now
the University of Johannesburg - where he had became a lecturer and eventually Professor of English.
Since 1991 Gray has devoted himself to full-time writing and has had a plethora of publications across the
full literary spectrum, from poetry to novels to biographies to plays. He has also tried his hand at editing
His poetry has been described as "simple, warm and witty".
Have you looked at the questions
in the right column?
Read the left column and then answer
the following questions:
"My mother before she died insisted
I should have a herb garden
Something in her English soul
Amid rough South Africans."
- Why would the poet's mother have insisted on his having a herb garden? (4)
- The poet lists some of the herbs she planted in this garden. What are they? (4)
- The poet mentions two specific assets of planting herbs. What are these? (4)
"They arrived in soggy pages of The Star
With a spade taller than herself
She dug them into my backyard
Before I was ready for them
A cigarette tightly in her lips
Explaining chives made life worthwhile."
- What is The Star? Why would it have made a good medium for transporting the
- Would you like to describe the poet's mother? (4)
- What words tell us that the caring for the herb garden was therapeutic for his
- What words tells us that the planting of the herb garden was very much the mother's
"That is how she died in her own
Garden of sweet remembrance."
- Why does the poet refer to the herb garden as a "garden of sweet remembrance"? (4)
- What words in the poem tells us that his mother was never satisfied with what she had
- What words tell us that the poet has continued to maintain the garden long after her
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