Cas Vos – vertaling in Engels

Cas Vos – vertaal deur/ translated by Leon de Kock

 

Cas Vos

Cas Vos

Cas Vos was born on 15 May 1945 in Rustenburg. He recently retired from the position of Dean of the Faculty of Theology at the University of Pretoria. In 1999 he was awarded the Andrew Murray prize for Die Volheid Daarvan I en II (The Fullness Thereof). In 2001 the South African Academy for Science and Arts awarded Vos the Pieter van Drimmelen medal. His debut volume of poetry, Vuurtong (Tongue of Fire) appeared in 1999. His second volume,  Gode van Papier (Gods of Paper), was published in 2001, and was followed in 2003 by Enkeldiep (Ankle-Deep). Some of his poems have been collected in anthologies, and a television programme has been made about his poetry. His fourth volume of poetry, Die Afdruk van Ons Hande (The Imprint of Our Hands), appeared in 2007, and his most recent volume, Intieme Afwesige, appeared in 2009 (translated as Intimately Absent, 2010). A new volume of poetry, Duskant die donker/Before it darkens (with translations by Leon de Kock) appeared in 2011. (Protea Bookhouse) 

 

I love him most at night                                            

After a poem by Dorianne Laux

 

I love him most at night

when he brings himself to me

and I see my North Pole,

catch his sweet breath

a cool breeze across my skin

briefly touching my sex.

I unbutton his top

look longingly

at his modest, dark nipples,

his bony ribs,

the curls of hair on his chest,

his compact feet, their soles,

the way his calves flex

as cords of muscle pull together.

His heart thumps

a beat of pure joy.

 

His shoes stand modestly aside

still wearing the dust of a long day.

I fetch him, bring him closer,

with kisses I anoint his lips,

for I am the chalice from which he drinks,

from which he drinks the love that I pour out

at night when I love him most.

 

(From: Duskant die donker/Before it darkens. Protea Bookhouse, 2011)

(Tr. by Leon de Kock)

 

 

From dark to light                                                               

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Clarinet Concerto K. 622

 

Ice-wind cuts through your skin

as if to cool a fever within.

You look to the heavens above

stars caught in a cold net of love.

 

Anxiety draws a knot in your chest

as fear robs you of pluck and zest.

Pearls of sweat run from your crown

but a melody begins to loosen your dread.

 

Then your concerto breaks like light

like fire, day’s first rite.

Quickly you write the notes down

feel them unstitching your frown.

 

You wink at the dark angel

Nearer my God to thee.

Sitting in the grim reaper’s lap

you shut, completely, his trap.

 

(From: Duskant die donker/Before it darkens. Protea Bookhouse, 2011)

(Tr. by Leon de Kock)

 

 

birth

for reynard

 

in the deep dark, the hollow of a cave

god weaved you into shape:

blood tapestry, heart kidneys lungs

a tongue to sound out hostage words

 

on christmas eve, as wise men

stamped dust from their feet

unburdened heavy arms of gifts

you recline as if on a chair

agitate against womb’s wall:

all of 7mm long and shrewd

with longing for my yet unloved

 

nine months in the shadows

and you are perfectly tuned for mischief:

through a wound you break into blinding day

 

may you, as you traverse the pale-moon nights

through banks of cloud, dream away the dark

 

(From: Duskant die donker/Before it darkens. Protea Bookhouse, 2011)

(Tr. by Leon de Kock)

 

Translator:

Leon de Kock is a writer, translator and scholar. He has published three volumes of poetry in English (Bloodsong, 1997, gone to the edges, 2006, and Bodyhood, 2010), a novel in 2011 and several works of literary translation, including the novel Triomf by Marlene van Niekerk and a collection of poems, Intimately Absent (Intieme Afwesige) by Cas Vos which won him the SALA award in 2011. Translations of Etienne van  Heerden’s novel, In Stede van die Liefde, and Vos’s Duskant die Donker (Before it Darkens; selected poems) are forthcoming. De Kock holds a chair of English at the University of Stellenbosch.

***

Other earlier translations:

Dialogue with Job

 

Who was it sized up earth’s body

with the flick of a tape measure?

Who blew godly breath

into her lead belly?

Who now holds her cupped in hand?

 

Who was it invited people from all corners

to leave behind their curses, their guns,

to dance instead, beating the early hours

with flags and garish costumes?

 

Who snapped the heavens out wide

like a flaming mirror burning in the night?

Who veils mysteries in constellations

and makes stars smoulder into sight?

 

Who was it took the body of darkness

and wrapped it in a winding sheet?

Who rang the bells for first light?

Who roused the day with harp and flute,

a vermilion sky,

as it uncurled from mountain’s side?

 

Who comforted the raging sea

when, brooding and flamboyant,

it sprawled out of the motherlode?

Who was it made a dress for her

from the cloth of thundercloud,

and from darkness a headscarf?

 

Who harried the stormwind

out of its hiding place?

Who was it made the thunderheads

groan overhead, pregnant with water,

until they burst their seams?

 

Who built the towers,

silos for snow and hail?

Who was it opened the doors

for the day when blood

must run in the streets?

 

Who is it can tie up Pleiades

or loose the bands of Orion?

Who, when shadows lengthen,

can beckon the Bear Guardian,

her little ones, closer?

Who is it sends angels onto human paths

faint with the scars of deadly wounds?

Who? Who? Who?

Echoes in the wind.

God knows,

humans, not.

 

[Tr. by Leon de Kock. 5/2010]

 

 

birth

for reynard

 

in the deep dark, the hollow of a cave

god weaved you into shape:

blood tapestry, heart kidneys lungs

a tongue to sound out hostage words

 

on christmas eve, as wise men

stamped dust from their feet

unburdened heavy arms of gifts

you recline as if on a chair

agitate against womb’s wall:

all of 7mm long and shrewd

with longing for my yet unloved

 

nine months in the shadows

and you are perfectly tuned for mischief:

through a wound you break into blinding day

 

may you, as you traverse the pale-moon nights

through banks of cloud, dream away the dark

 

[Tr. by Leon de Kock. 5/2010]

 

 

To pieces

 

Wind plucks angel feathers from a promised land,

lets them flutter across horizons, the sun’s brink.

One blows up against the scrub, finds my hand.

I stroke back the feathers and dip the quill in ink.

 

And so I write to you on the retina of night.

I write you a poem as stars fall out of the sky

and you await me in the shade of dreamy light,

agape at how quickly love can flicker and die.

 

But my quill falters. You awake in shock so sharp

you take flight through night’s narrow gate.

I seek your breath, terror beating at my heart

as disaster stirs in the winds, the voids of fate.

 

I rip the poem to pieces, only then to stare:

feathers swarming in the windblown air.

 

[Tr. by Leon de Kock. 5/2010]

 

 

Feathers in the wind

 

I watch as your letter, feathers torn from wind’s grip

snags on the gaunt taaibos, its unruly hair.

Some lines come to land on a river’s lip.

Others, like leaves, hover in the autumn air.

 

In my dreams I see the tatters of a letter.

I bend over and ribbon together the bits.

In every braid, I seek your name, love’s fetter

but love is a word that flies on the wind like riffs.

 

Through serifs of vision I see you writing lines.

I hear your love whispering on sheets of paper.

The moon drifts on a lake of darkened vines,

the stars pale. I long for your breath, a rapier.

 

I seek out your body’s lettering as if in a haze.

My words fall like vapour off your absent gaze.

 

[Tr. by Leon de Kock. 5/2010]

 

 

Rustle of language

 

Dusk seeps through the panes.

I hear the rustle of language,

the whistle of a night train.

Stars drift like boats on water,

shadows shift across the moon.

 

I hear this rustle like leaves,

then dusk blows in a poem

from the black land of dreams.

Feeling through the fragments

I seek the outline of your face.

My eyes wander across veins

branching your soft hands.

 

On paper I notate this rustle so light

like breath escaping night’s mouth.

A poem in stops and starts

out of a hand so blunt, so ignorant

bruised with the vines of green verse

and still I lose their shape.

 

My hand notates, on paper

in the ruins of dusk

the rustle of language

 

[Tr. by Leon de Kock. 5/2010]

 

 

Red Vineyards of Arles

 

The vineyards of Arles

sprawl up the slope.

The lands are aflame.

Everywhere you look, heat.

Women’s bodies break into fever,

bent over in purple,

these flaming angels,

yellow orange red.

Grapes burst, leaching

blood onto the ground.

 

Ravens swarm above the stubble.

A painter enters the picture.

 

With flaming flourishes

he roams another land.

 

These voices in his head

he wishes he could smother,

no soft or gentle hand

brings silence down upon him.

 

Only the beading of hot blood

on dry skin,

thick pigment on canvas.

 

[Tr. by Leon de Kock. 5/2010]

 

 

A picture in words

 

This one is my beloved, my baby

 

the guy on her right

her murdered brother

 

and the dude on the left

 

her sorry-assed lover

before I entered the picture

 

she gives them both big hugs

as if in a hurried last greeting

 

then I move in, go for the heart.

 

[Tr. by Leon de Kock. 5/2010]

 

Bookmark and Share

Een Kommentaar op “Cas Vos – vertaling in Engels”

  1. Louis Pienaar :

    Leon de Kock het uitstekende werk gedoen, om gedigte te vertaal en dieselfde gevoel, betekenis en krag te behou is geensins ‘n maklike taak nie. Dis ‘n plesier om hierdie meesleurende gedigte van Cas Vos ook in Engels te lees!