Fanie Olivier – vertaling in Engels

Fanie Olivier – vertaal deur/translated by Charl JF Cilliers

 

Fanie Olivier
Fanie Olivier

Fanie Olivier was born in Pretoria, grew up in the Cape and learned to write in Durban. He studied Law and Afrikaans at Stellenbosch, and his first volume of poems was gom uit die sipres. There were further post-graduate studies in Utrecht in the Netherlands, and he obtained his doctorate at Potchefstroom University. He was a lecturer at the old University of Natal and (similarly) at Durban-Westville. He was Arts Editor for Rapport newspaper for three years, and then again a lecturer at the still existing University of Venda. He worked for almost two years at the Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznan in Poland and then again as an advocate in Durban. Since the end of 2007 he returned to the new University of KwaZulu-Natal, but went back to Poland. After his first volume of poems he published five more volumes: om alleen te reis, paradysrigting van die wind, skimmelig, verklarings 1967-1987 and apostroof (2010). He published a couple of celebratory volumes and the distinctive Die mooiste Afrikaanse liefdesgedigte, an anthology of love poems. In 2009 he translated JM Coetzee’s novel Disgrace.

 

 

for travellers signposts are like a prayer

and for an overview of what lies where

possession of a route map is beyond compare.

 

but if one is entangled, trapped here

in urban toil – hound and home so near,

the dearest kith and kin – it would appear

 

a city atlas could be the very thing

to coax one into plotting

 

the overall terrain: with CD’s playing,

blissfully from your bed scrutinise

the scene: alleys a woman would be wise

to skirt; green oases under smoggy skies.

 

i know:  angst freezes you cuts you down to size;

angels lift you into a deeper, darker, sweeter ring

 

(Uncollected)

(Tr. by Charl JF Cilliers)                                  

 

 

orb

            (for ina rousseau)

 

how awesome are you, beautiful sphere

with ravishing soil, loam, malleable clay

dolomite that splinters under the sun,

granite ruptured by a root, huge austere

mountains flaking off into a vlei,

a marsh overnight turned to stone?

 

how you bring forth life from a cocoon that’s spun,

from an egg cell, a succulent finding its place

on a drop of sand! full of  colours you sway

the seasons, full of sound every tree!

 

you blink an eye and the phoenicians are obliterated;

with a flick of the wrist the egyptians are swept away;

whoosh, you shatter the greeks, the roman empire

vanishes like an afterthought your dreams set free.

 

who are we to toy with you like a silver ball

from a station teetering somewhere in space?

who do we think we are, we who continually conspire

to rip apart your innards, throw

smoke up into your clouds, who let forests fall

to slabs of tar, bare botches of a concrete overrun?

 

one move from you and the skyscrapers’ steel

snaps like that shade tree that a worm has made its meal,

a blade of grass cracks concrete, the plight

of aids blights our smug self-sufficiency.

 

a whiplash of hail makes it clear,

a flash of cosmos reveals what you sow.

 

how awesome you are, how beautiful a spot,

bold planet that turns, turns unabated

turns through a million years of light;

how pathetic, how trivial are we

who think we are creation’s crown: what rot! 

 

(Uncollected)

(Tr. by Charl JF Cilliers)                            

 

 

vi

 

the hand, its task complete, lies on the palette

fingers mix colours in a dream’s rich honeycomb

and against the wall, perfect in chrome,

his model is immortalised in her portrait.

 

so softly that a pencil’s light tracery

can be heard she folds the rug to tuck him in

strokes him where sleep’s silver softnesses begin

and in the sweet deep undulations algae drift dreamily.

beside the coast’s dark line lie the harbour’s winking lights.

 

so colours need to intermingle, flow,

words evoke words, stone upon stone.

the wispy sketch against the wall must disappear from sight.

 

her hand and everything within start to bleed and glow

her eyes, his canvas, incomprehensibly becoming one.

 

(From: die kunstenaar kyk na sy model. An unpublished poem, 2010)

(Tr. by Charl JF Cilliers)                                              

 

 

for months my small hamlet lay there safely, still,

i watched the gangly granadillas cling

to the fence i planted as security

against intrusion from outsiders’ shrill

weighing up of joy and agony.

shrubs along the path had grown dense

and songbirds appeared again to sing

slowly everything made sense

and behind shutters i am in charge, the man

planting more windbreaks everywhere i can.

 

then on a night like this it falls apart                        

under your shining lips: blown

away by the wind roaring through the dell

façades scattering, my plan

in tatters like my protected heart

 

friends ask where are this dumb fool’s ears:           

even the piggies learned their lesson well:

in order to survive one always should

use tar, concrete, corrugated iron, stone.

 

how would they know with how much care

i chose the spot where i had planned to stay

the wind a gentle breeze over these many years

and not a hint of perfume in the air

i found out everything i could

to prevent a new beginning and the same despair.

how could i have guessed that you lived all alone

here in the mountains, that my house of cards

of thatch and straw would be blown away?

 

after all, i too am only flesh and bone.

 

(Uncollected)

(Tr. by Charl JF Cilliers) 

 

Translator:

 

Charl JF Cilliers  was born in 1941 in Cape Town. Initially he went into the field of electronics and lectured for 4 years. He then joined Parliament as a translator in 1968 and retired in 1998 as Editor of Hansard. His first volume of poems West-Falling Light appeared in 1971, to be followed by Has Winter No Wisdom in 1978. His Collected Poems 1960 – 2008 appeared in 2008 and The Journey in 2010. His latest volume of poetry, A momentary stay.  was published in 2011. He also published a volume of children’s poems, Fireflies Facing The Moon, in 2008. He has retired to the Cape West Coast where he continues to write.

 

 

 

 

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