Ingrid Jonker – vertaling in Engels

Ingrid Jonker. Translations by/Vertaal deur Antjie Krog & André Brink, &
Charl-Pierre Naudé

 

Ingrid Jonker

Ingrid Jonker

Ingrid Jonker was born on a farm in Douglas, near Kimberley in the northern Cape on 19 September 1933. Her parents, Abraham Jonker and Beatrice Cilliers, separated very early in her life.  Beatrice returned to her parents to raise her two small girls. The family moved on to a farm near Cape Town, but when her grandfather died five years later, the four women were left destitute.
Jonker’s mother died in 1943, and Ingrid and Anna were sent to school in Cape Town. The sisters later moved in with their father and his third wife and their children, but it was a traumatic arrangement that yielded the beginning of what would become a permanent rift between Jonker and her father.Jonker began writing poems as a young girl, producing her first collection, Na die somer, at 13. By 16, she was corresponding with the South African writer and poet D.J. Opperman and publishing in Die Huisgenoot.
In 1956, the poet married Pieter Venter and gave birth to a daughter, Simone, a year later. The couple moved to Johannesburg, but soon separated and Jonker returned to Cape Town with her daughter.
The relationship with her father was tempestuous and bitter. As writer, editor and National Party Member of Parliament, Dr Abraham Jonker was instrumental in implementing censorship laws on art, publications and entertainment. Their political differences were public and humiliating, and Abraham publicly denied Ingrid as his daughter.
The Afrikaanse Pers-Boekhandel prize and a scholarship from Anglo American Corporation enabled her to travel to Europe, however, her harrowing love affairs with South African literary figures, Jack Cope and André Brink complicated her life. One of the affairs resulted in a pregnancy and an abortion, which was illegal in South Africa. In 1961 she received psychiatric treatment at Valkenberg, where her mother had died some years earlier.
The multiple losses of her childhood, her failed marriage, the anxiety resulting from her affairs and her father’s bitter rejection finally proved overwhelming. On the night of 19 July 1965, she walked into the sea at Three Anchor Bay, where a memorial now honours her legacy. When her father heard the news, he allegedly said, “They can throw her back into the sea for all I care.” 

Compiled by Liesl Jobson  

 

 

 

Bitter-berry daybreak

 

Bitter-berry daybreak
bitter-berry sun
a mirror has broken
between me and him

I try to find the highway
perhaps to run away
but everywhere the footpaths
of his words lead me astray

Pinewood remember
pinewood forget
however much I lose my way
I step on my regret

Parrot-coloured echo
tricks me tricks me on
until I turn beguiled
to retrieve the mocking song

Echo gives no answer
he answers everyone
bitter-berry daybreak
bitter-berry sun

 

 

© Translation: 2007, Antjie Krog & André Brink
From: Black Butterflies
Publisher: Human & Rousseau, Cape Town, 2007
ISBN: 9780798148924

 

***

 

Daisies in Namaqualand

 

Why do we still listen
to the answers given by the daisies
to the wind to the sun
what has become of the little kokkewiets

Behind the closed forehead
where perhaps a twig still tumbles
from a drowned springtime
Behind my word killed in action
Behind our divided home
Behind the heart locked against itself
Behind wire fences, camps, locations
Behind the silence where foreign languages
fall like bells at a funeral
Behind our land torn apart
sits the green mantis of the veld
and dazed we still hear
small blue Namaqualand daisy
answering something, believing something, knowing something.

 

© Translation: 2007, Antjie Krog & André Brink
From: Black Butterflies
Publisher: Human & Rousseau, Cape Town, 2007
ISBN: 9780798148924

 

***

 

ESCAPE

 

From this Valkenburg have I run away
and in my thoughts return to Gordon’s Bay:

I play with tadpoles swimming free
carve swastikas in a red-krantz tree

I am the dog that slinks from beach to beach
barks dumb-alone against the evening breeze

I am the gull that swoops in famished flights
to serve up meals of long-dead nights

The god who shaped you from the wind and dew
to find fulfilment of my pain in you:

Washed out my body lies in weed and grass
in all the places where we once did pass.

 

© Translation: 2007, Antjie Krog & André Brink
From: Black Butterflies
Publisher: Human & Rousseau, Cape Town, 2007
ISBN: 9780798148924

 

***

 

HUSH NOW, THE DARKLING MAN

for Simone

 

On the green footpath
of the horizon far
around the earth little one,
an old man trudges who wears
an open moon in his hair
Nightingale in his heart
jasmin plucked for his buttonhole
and a back bowed down by his years.

What’s he doing, mummy?
He calls the crickets
He calls the black
silence that sings
like the rushes, my sweet
and the stars which throb
knock-knock my love,
like the tiny little beetles
in their thin far ring.

What’s his name, mummy?
His name is Hush
His name is Sleep
Mister Forget
from the Land of Dream
His name is hush
he’s called, my sweet
Hush now, the darkling man

Mummy…
Hush now, the darkling man

 

© Translation: 2007, Antjie Krog & André Brink
From: Black Butterflies
Publisher: Human & Rousseau, Cape Town, 2007
ISBN: 9780798148924

 

***

 

Little Grain of Sand

 

Grain little grain of sand
pebble rolled in my hand
pebble thrust in my pocket
a keepsake for a locket

Little sun big in the blue
a granule I make out of you
shine in my pebble little grain
for the moment that’s all I can gain

Baby that screams from the womb
nothing is big in this tomb
quietly laugh now and speak
silence in dead-end street

Little world round and earth-blue
make a mere eye out of you
house with a door and two slits
a garden where everything fits

Small arrow feathered into space
love fades away from its place
Carpenter seals a coffin that’s bought
I ready myself for the nought

Small grain of sand is my word, my breath
small grain of nought is my death

 

© Translation: 2007, Antjie Krog & André Brink
From: Black Butterflies
Publisher: Human & Rousseau, Cape Town, 2007
ISBN: 9780798148924

 

***

 

The child who was shot dead by soldiers in Nyanga

 

The child is not dead
the child raises his fists against his mother
who screams Africa screams the smell
of freedom and heather
in the locations of the heart under siege

The child raises his fists against his father
in the march of the generations
who scream Africa scream the smell
of justice and blood
in the streets of his armed pride

The child is not dead
neither at Langa nor at Nyanga
nor at Orlando nor at Sharpeville
nor at the police station in Philippi
where he lies with a bullet in his head

The child is the shadow of the soldiers
on guard with guns saracens and batons
the child is present at all meetings and legislations
the child peeps through the windows of houses and into the hearts of mothers
the child who just wanted to play in the sun at Nyanga is everywhere
the child who became a man treks through all of Africa
the child who became a giant travels through the whole world

Without a pass

 

© Translation: 2007, Antjie Krog & André Brink
From: Black Butterflies
Publisher: Human & Rousseau, Cape Town, 2007
ISBN: 9780798148924

 

***

 

YOU HAVE TRICKED ME

 

You’ve tricked me Dolie
you’ve cheated me like hell
my heart o little gooseberry
has shrivelled in its shell

The pastors say oh surely no
my mum says go away
my granny thinks oh heavens
our help has gone astray

But Dolie bokkie baby
you turned me down it’s true
in vain I grow my little days
like chickens all for you

No matter that I offer you
a fig with day-break’s tan
last night o my attatjie
you had another man

My tame owl and my mongrel
they howl through nights and days
but Dolie bokkie baby
we howl one word always

 

© Translation: 2007, Antjie Krog & André Brink
From: Black Butterflies
Publisher: Human & Rousseau, Cape Town, 2007
ISBN: 9780798148924

 

Poems published with the kind permission by Poetry International Web

————————————————————— 

  

Bitter fruit of daybreak

 

Bitter fruit of daybreak

bitter fruit of sun

a mirror fell and broke

between us and harm

 

When I seek the highway

to guide my running there

everywhere his word paths

temp me from the glare

 

Pine copse remembered

copse forgotten now

even when I’m way off track

I bump into my sorrow

 

Pied parrot echo

fools me all the time

tricked now tricked now utterly

I tease back in kind

 

Echo is no answer

he answers me and none

bitter fruit of daybreak

bitter fruit of sun

 

(Bitterbessie dagbreek. Translated by Charl-Pierre Naudé)

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