Hottentot Venus and other poems was written over the years 1974 to 1979. The first, very personal, section ranges over many topics: beasts and the wild life, the matter of exile, the clash between South Africans at home and abroad. and, as the title poem states, the clash of cultures in history as well: the eclipse of Khoisan culture in the face of white civilization finds its mouthpiece in 'Hottentot Venus'.
The second section is concerned with poetry, and the role of poetry, in South Africa: by way of tributes to, and parodies of, his forebears, Gray comments on his society and present times.
The two sequences of dramatic poems, 'Baudelaire's Voyage' and 'Man's Gold', recall the roots of South African poetry, in a fresh blending of old rhetoric and new rhythms.