Original Research

Die verwantskap tussen khôra en die mistiek in M.M. Walters se gedig ‘Die groot stilte’

Elizabeth J. van der Berg, Phil van Schalkwyk
Literator | Vol 43, No 1 | a1940 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/lit.v43i1.1940 | © 2022 Elizabeth J. van der Berg, Phil van Schalkwyk | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 30 June 2022 | Published: 21 December 2022

About the author(s)

Elizabeth J. van der Berg, School of Languages, Faculty of Humanities, North-West University, Potchefstroom, South Africa
Phil van Schalkwyk, School of Languages, Faculty of Humanities, North-West University, Potchefstroom, South Africa


The relationship between khôra and mysticism in M.M Walter’s poem ‘Die groot stilte’. In view of M.M. Walters’ recent death (28 Julie 2020), it is timeous to pay homage to him by focusing on a lesser-known aspect of his poetry, namely mysticism. This article aims to demonstrate the relationship between the mysterious and enigmatic Platonic concept khôra and mysticism, and to subsequently indicate how this is expressed in the poem ‘Die groot stilte’ (in the volume Sprekende van God). Walters (1929–2020) was mainly a satirist, but also a poet of religious verse. However, he differentiated himself as an unconventional religious poet and alternative seeker of God. He opposed church dogma and believed that Christ should be sought in ways that go beyond simply accepting the church’s teachings. The article opens with a brief survey of the mystical tradition in Afrikaans poetry, after which the poetry of Walters is briefly described. Subsequently, the reception of his anthology Sprekende van God is discussed. After an introductory discussion of the khôra concept, his poem Die groot stilte is analysed in detail, and the relationship between khôra and mysticism explained. Pieter G.R. de Villiers (2020) maintains that Walters created striking poems with mystical content, and that he was often misunderstood by the clergy and orthodox believers as an enemy of religion and the church. Countering this, De Villiers observes that Walters was driven to seek a genuine, credible spirituality. De Villiers finds it unfortunate that this aspect of Walters’ poetry is not sufficiently recognised.

Contribution: Based on the analysis and interpretation of ‘Die groot stilte’, the conclusion is reached that Walters can indeed be described as a mystical poet and that his mystical poetry can be regarded as part of the relatively small yield in mystical Afrikaans literature. This article adds to the equally small corpus of academic literature on mysticism in Afrikaans.


Afrikaans poetry; mysticism; mystic poetry; Christianity; Sufism; deconstruction; khôra/Chora; M.M. Walters; Sprekende van God; ‘Die groot stilte’


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