Marais was one of the most innovative Afrikaans writers and a pioneer of the usage of free verse in Afrikaans. He was an editor of the newspaper, Land en Volk and became controversial in Transvaal politics. He withdrew to a lonely life on a Waterberg farm, north of Pretoria and created some of his best poetry. It was also around this time that he published The Soul of the White Ant (1937) and then My Friends the Baboons (1939) which was posthumously published after he had taken his life.

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