So Lonely and So Far From Home

The homested at Courlandskloof. The poem is on the peak of the koppie in the background

High on a Karoo koppie on a massive boulder lies a little bit of Sweden. It is a poem and it was engraved on the rock by a Swedish tutor who ended up in the Karoo and spent some time teaching the children on Courlandskloof, a farm in the Nelspoort area.

The man, simply known as Petersen, was a “a very intelligent, decent and kindly fellow” and liked by most who met him, said Beaufort West’s Reverend Paul de Villiers, in 1996.  As a young man Rev De Villiers had lived on Courlandskloof.

Petersen loved the Karoo, but he missed his family and his homeland.   The poem on the koppie, now known as Petersen’s Kop,  tells of his great loneliness and a longing for home.

Petersen was not a well man.  Like so many who came from Europe in those days  he  came to the Karoo in the hopes of finding a cure for a respiratory complaint.   “But that was not to be.  By the time he decided to engrave the poem on the rock Petersen was hardly in any condition to climb the koppie.  He knew he was dying, yet he made himself go out daily and soldier up the incline to get the job done.  It was a tremendous undertaking for a man so ill, but he completed the poem, as well as a profile likeness of himself on the rock,” said Rev. De Villiers.   “As he felt his life ebbing away all he  wanted to do was leave a lasting piece of himself  and a little piece of Sweden” in the Karoo where people had been so immensely kind to him.”

Petersen died shortly after completing the poem and profile and according to Rev De Villiers both were exquisitely executed.

The poem was translated into English in 1917 by a friend of Reverend De Villiers’s father,  It states: “When the Moon sheds its rays, / Like a silver cover on the Earth, / I then always ask those rays / To bring love and greetings home to the North.”

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