Marlise Joubert – vertaling in Engels

Marlise Joubert – vertaal deur/translated by Tony & Gisela Ullyatt, Pierre du Preez, Leon de Kock, Jacques Coetzee, marcelle olivier, Charl-Pierre Naudé, & Martjie Bosman.

Marlise Joubert. Foto: Philip de Vos

Marlise Joubert. Foto: Philip de Vos

Marlise Joubert was born in Elim, Limpopo, South Africa. She grew up in Warmbaths [also known as Bela Bela] and has degrees in Librarianship and a BA Honours in Philosophy. After her studies, she worked as a journalist and librarian, including sixteen years at the Fine Arts Department Library of Stellenbosch University. From 2001, she worked for several years in the Protea Book Shop as an accountant and web designer.

Marlise is now a fulltime writer and painter. Her last exhibition of watercolour paintings, Wat die water onthou (What water remembers) took place in 2008 at the Absa KKNK in Oudtshoorn. She and her husband, Louis Esterhuizen, started the popular Afrikaans poetry website, Versindaba. She was the editor of four volumes of poetry containing work of all the poets participating in the yearly Versindaba poetry festivals in Stellenbosch. Her first volume of poetry was published in 1970. Her seventh volume of poetry: splintervlerk was published by Protea Boekhuis in 2011. In 2015 she published her 8th volume: bladspieël (Human & Rousseau). She was the editor of the anthology “in a burning sea”, with translations of 30 Afrikaans poets. She is also the author of three novels, of which the first, Klipkus, (Tafelberg, 1978) was translated by Ena Jansen into Dutch as Rode granaat (Anthos, 1981). She has received several awards for her radio dramas.

 

 

archaeologist

 

you walk against the ox red dusk

the wild dogs with you  

you sleep in your tent beside the hippos

that gently munch every tuft of grass each night

or perhaps a puku stirring

                                   past the reeds

where danger might skulk

 

your journey is in Zambia’s footsteps

pushing out along the Luangwa River

on the banks of a lake

on the dirt road of a reserve

 

by day your fingers play in the dust

brush away the earth with little brooms

revealing within markers the cracks of a time

when clay was still stories                     

and you can unravel only shards here or later

for posterity

pegged down in dissertations and museum spaces

 

child, you are a guileless archeologist

gorgeously alive in a safari suit

hesitant with your small hands

clad in soft suede

 

to here

where all your years lie swept in

between fragments

of memory             under the skull         

of my prehistoric heart

 

(From: passies en passasies, Protea Boekhuis, 2007)

(Tr. by Tony & Gisela Ullyatt)

 

 

the language of stone

 

1

 

whatever you read in rock carvings

paper or stone accumulates

not in years, but in weight

 

not the weight of a body

but the weight of history

 

with volumes I grow deeper into you

without which I cannot breathe

 

2

 

I live in sleep’s stone language

in the earth and build a house

with all the words that you read

 

then cut the vein of a river in two

to become as we are

to become as we ought to be

 

when I got up I also remembered

that words can remember

no more than only the words

 

but your speech sounds like stone

rolling and sweeping all that lives before it

is the awakening of the land

 

and your voice breathes like something

in the weight of love or perhaps

in the mountain’s fold

 

and always devoted to blue

 

(From: passies en passasies, Protea Boekhuis, 2007)

(Tr. by Tony & Gisela Ullyatt)

 

 

blossom tongue

 

behind the easy chair

the irises still blooming

after four sterile days.

 

behind the vase of ribbed glass                              

cut-off arteries hang loose in the water.

 

behind purple butterflies bleeds the trauma

of a week ago, no, two or three

when purple forceps pinched my back,

rupturing the rotten cartilage like a nut –

bruising the jellied tissue soft as saffron

and snapping the orange stamen

of braided nerves.

 

behind the chair,

incessant and fervent,

with purple-spittled tongues

the irises bloom

 

before the sun squanders the crescent moon

and the stars’ firmament in perfect equilibrium

ligament by ligament

 

(From: splintervlerk, Protea Boekhuis, 2011)

(Tr. by Tony & Gisela Ullyatt)

 

 

to account for you

 

how could you already walk so ploddingly

on the stilts of your forefathers

how then could your hands grab shakily

at the sunflower in the backyard

 

child how can I rip you loose

from the black pasts’ banners

or the brutal tides in a land

blinding your small heart

 

to account for you in a city

that will never preserve your name

in either peace or exultation

 

to account for you

in your house where bricks

surrender to the crumbling

of yet another couple

where electronic gates

appear to shut tight

against hands hardened around

cold fires and bullets

like dying stars

 

child to account for you

in a fenceless avenue

or explosions on freeways

is tiresome for my fingers

that have already come to know of dreams

ossifying like dismissive angels

 

how then should I pronounce you so that damage

dies timidly apart on a mine-dump

so that nothing slits the soles of your feet

never coming near the first words

of your defenceless tongue

 

how should I then write you up

so that the moon you so admire

 

always hangs its flaming blossom

over your face

 

(From: splintervlerk, Protea Boekhuis, 2011)

(Tr. by Tony & Gisela Ullyatt)

 

 

Eikendal Blues

 

i

the morning’s autumn chill is caught

on the cheek like soft glass

 

my beloved pulls on his gray jacket

my beloved covers his chest

with a black shirt

 

the sky crystal blue the mountains

stock-still mounds of rock

and a patina on yesterday’s fynbos

 

we traipse toward the vineyard

to relish a midday meal

at the Bayede restaurant –

Hail to the King on the edge

of a flayed season

 

soft shadows moving through the dale

and vineyards lift green cloaks

from apple-yellow shoulders

 

on another continent the leaves become

translucent lime-green

with defenceless nails they claw

against another nomadic spring

 

my love and I sit down at a rickety table

beside the smooth shield of a pond

eating mussels and codfish

while somewhere in the country

here and there the earth drowns in blood

 

Hail to the King and the enemy

can come let us await him

 

ii

suddenly the dam makes

an open eye stippled in the middle

with several pure white ducks

their bundled feathers tiny pillows of peace

 

on another continent

the first birds awaken now

 

I watch the ducks on the black pond

I try to become wise –

they do not ponder death

or tomorrow

they simply think of nothing

 

my love and I talk about dominant cultures

and the revolt of counter-cultures against them

 

while he looks at a young couple laughing

at tourists or waiters with plates

the unwearied play of children

in between gnarled oak trees

 

 

iii

I would want to erase thoughts

of our mournful mortality I would want to

become wise and free like the floating

ducks with breaths that can swim together

over the water’s dark cold

 

how smooth my beloved in his skin

how vivid the line of his neck

how fervent and timid the bow of his lip

 

on another journey the leaves begin to erupt

while the mountains arrange blue banners

not far above the yellowing vineyard and nothing

nothing mourns openly

on this day –

 

finches’ nests stir the wind on the banks

and the white eye on the pond

is swept unnoticed beneath

a willow tree

 

my beloved wears a black shirt

I must remember it just so

behind him the restored white

back of a wine cellar and the colour

of autumn crystallising through

the thinning hair

 

on another continent the leaves

dazzle the horizon

 

Hail to the King

and the enemy can come –

 

we await him

 

(From: splintervlerk, Protea Boekhuis, 2011)

(Tr. by Tony & Gisela Ullyatt)

 

Translators:

Tony Ullyatt was born in Nottingham, and educated in India, Sudan, and Kenya before coming to do an undergraduate degree in English and French in Durban, South Africa. After finishing a Master’s degree in English at the University of Auckland, he wrote a PhD on American poetry at Unisa. He has further Master’s degrees in Psychology, Myth Studies, and Applied Language Studies. He also has a PhD in Myth Studies. He has won prizes for his radio drama and poetry as well as the FNB/Vita Award for Translation. He is currently a Research Fellow at the University of the North-West’s Potchefstroom campus.

Gisela Ullyatt was born in Bloemfontein, where she studied at the University of the Free State. After completing an Honours degree and a Master’s degree in German, she finished a Master’s degree in English (Applied Language Studies) as well as a Certificate in Teaching English as a Foreign Language. Her poetry has appeared in journals both locally and internationally, and she is a prize-winning short-story writer. Through the University of the North-West, she is currently working on a PhD which undertakes a Buddhist reading of Mary Oliver’s poetry.

 

***

Other translations from “passies en passasies”, Marlise Joubert. Protea Bookhouse, 2007. 

 

Ballad for the lovers

 

(after reading Yehuda Amichai & based on the structure of

his poem “Ballad in the Streets of Buenos Aires)

 

And a man meets a woman late in his life

Battered and barren as the landscape

Wistful and white as the silence of siesta

 

And soon she shows him her hungry lips

And soon she shows him the rift in her heart

And gives him all her hours, desolate, eclipsed

 

And she lives in the dust of her humble possessions

And the rain welling up starts there in her eyes

And he decides to be tender

 

And she knows the conversation between tablecloth and cutlery

And the knife and the fork of so many years

But, by degrees, he takes the hilt in his hand

 

And his hair grows long like verses, and soft like hers, like hair

And his words thread through hers with quiet and longing

And becomes whole in the outcry of her body

 

And blindly they walk towards the blush of the summer

And the words become flesh, as a valley thicks with fruit

And the impatience of seasons turns them into lovers

 

And he will have her seated at table in the days to come

And he will tempt her with new dishes and cutlery

And blend the candlelight with adagios, and jazz

 

And still they will be there when autumn crumbles

And there they will be when all time ceases

And there they will be for the linen-white shrouding

 

And she will enfold the sighs of his poems in her flesh

And also the knife and the fork of eternal togetherness

And they will enjoy the words that became bread

Like bread they will keep feasting each other, and propogate

Because he decided upon tenderness

 

[co. translation: marcelle olivier]

 

Milkwood Beach

dunes put their bristly heads together.
listen listen to the clamour and soughing
of waves churned into milky streaks.

seabirds swerve to evade the wind
beating wings against the summery spray.
indiscernibly the dunes move their hips away.

from the distant swirling fog break free
vaporous joggers riders on their horses.
and all become a gallop across the beach against a sun

sinking his burning ship into fathomless waters.
gold turns the grey to a yoghurty cloud of rose-quartz.
a dog drags a seaweed limb across the sand.

to the left Table Mountain rises like a castle
from the encircling channels full of drifting smoke.
to the right stands Koeberg quietly nuclear
atoms singing unheard into the atmosphere.

facing a wide house shoots of maize thrust upward
from the patch of unduned sand.
the scorched leaves soon resemble sun-dried fish.

a housewife picks long-fingers of green beans
grills the Sunday yellow-tailed cod with lemon juice
laughs and drinks her peachy sparkling wine.

I stare at hazy figures dawdling peacefully with
kids and dogs in the lukewarm dusk
spilling in profusion onto homes already lit. another stallion
having rhythmically cantered through evaporates in cream.

windows and sliding doors stare back with dull
glassy eyes. the drone of a boat
fades. two small chairs are being folded up.

Koeberg is split darkly against the moon.

lovers embrace then tear apart.

in Table Mountain’s castle
someone is blowing out the candles.

[Translation: Pierre du Preez]

 

in memoriam: Lisbé

That’s when she stopped, she turned her face to the wind,
shut her eyes – Jorie Graham,
“Self-portrait as Apollo and Daphne”

steel needn’t have torn open her skimpy body
it was not necessary, such force hammering into her
repeatedly –
she’d already said her goodbyes, before entering the blood inferno
before the screwdriver hand of an intruder
threw her into water and fled

she’d already taken her leave before arriving back home
already greeted her children, in front of school
the colour of the boy’s shirt and the colour
of his watchful eyes
already straightened out her daughter’s gym-slip
against wear, such thin little shoulders
already taken a step back, into herself
into the cracked skull of a dream
a voice that would call
on the other side of the morning sun’s earthly cloak

she’d already died
when she greeted her husband at a station
taking him further along with nothing
but the weight of memories
of them
and especially of her
happiness balanced on a needlepoint
on every horizon glancing off the train window
the mountain growing bigger as it gets closer and her heart
so inexplicably light in his memory
the way breath rests on his tongue

her farewells already said
when she turned to go home
darkened in the last stillness of rest
without words without warning without any suspicion
far too early
the little communion
of her body
appallingly punctured

[translation: Leon de Kock]

 

woman in Afghanistan
after seeing the film Kandahar

the woman was on her way to Kandahar
the woman was on her way alone
in the sand in the dunes of blood
in the blood of the sun
to save her sister from suicide
before the coming of the great eclipse

alone on her way the woman was with her garment
a wave of blue a dissonant flag
across the yellow rivers of sand
etched against horizon upon horizon
like a person
with the shoulders of a woman
with the head of a woman
veiled against non-existence

the woman on her way to Kandahar
sways on the donkey-wagon
ignores the soldiers and landmines
the suffocating fire
listens fearlessly with her heart against a jar
sees men on crutches at the Red Cross Camp
hobble one-legged over a hill of stone
to be the first to grab the wooden legs
when they fall from the sky with parachutes

she gives her last money to a child
to take her to Kandahar
she refuses the gold ring which he
steals from a skeleton between sandbagged walls
and on the last day
just the other side of the last dune
in front of the yellow stone wall of Kandahar
in a procession of singers
and brides and wedding-guests
she is stopped by rebels
with the barrel of a gun against her cheek

she is pointed out as an unknown woman
uncovered behind her burka
by checkered shafts of light
she is turned away as the unwelcome one
who wanted to save her sister in Kandahar

before the coming of the eclipse
before her attempt at darkness
one sorrowful death too many in the sand
in the dunes of blood in the middle of the day
in the sunless night of Kandahar

[translation: Jacques Coetzee]

 

archaeologist

you walk at the hour of ox-red dusk
with the wild dogs
you sleep in your tent next to hippopotami
who noiselessly chew each blade of grass every night
or perhaps a buck that moves stealthily
past the bull-rushes
where danger might be lurking

your journey follows the footprints of Zambia
washed out by the Luangwa River
on the banks of a lake
in the dirt road of a reserve

by day your fingers play in the earth
sweep the ground away with little brushes
lay bare within boundaries the cracks of a time
when clay was still a story
and you can only decipher shards here or later
for future generations
enclosed in dissertations and museum halls

child, you are an artless archaeologist
lovely and alive in a safari suit
hesitant with your small hands
gloved in soft suede

until you come to this place
where all your years lie embedded
between shards
of memory underneath the skull
of my prehistoric heart

[translation: Jacques Coetzee]

 

 

horses

horses are sovereigns of summits
and the wheat crowns of dunes and fire steeples
horses are kings cloaked in blue
ocre almond dappling like grey
blacker than ovens whiter than talc
manes tangling in eddies of wind
horses are kings with high hats and hooves
hurtling over mountains rivers and reefs
savannah and cliffs and rifts with fervour
oh sovereigns of stone with
hooves draped in banners
drumming on amethyst amethyst
hooves in stone simbal
dolomite dolomite

ruby are the orbs of horses
ruby like stars against the dusk
where the dust-devil turns where sands
circle like powder into nothing

brown are the eyes of horses
brown like mould on mud
where the sun lies down softly
in pans of summer water

horses are sovereigns who snort and gallop
across town squares and plateaus of people
horses carry cargo of children and noble riders
or clutches of old folk like huts on the back
horses neigh alone and rapt among rhythms of trees

horses are fish in fata morganas
swishing from the left and to the right
returning to the light as if gods
want to catch their heads in their nets
with hooves draped in banners
drumming drumming amethyst amethyst
hooves in stone simbals
dolomite dolomite

horses are princes decanting the galaxy
ash of the morning the tardy pace
horses are princes in a hand-held trot

with prancing muscles
dancing through the land
drumming drumming amethyst amethyst

horses are women who discover
secrets in the road
women with flanks that shimmer
in the sweat of day
camping among moons and in snow
in vapour and grass
lying down in a stable like a star in our pass

horses are kings and princes and fish and women
horses are more than salpetre of breath

[translation: Charl-Pierre Naudé]

 

 

Warnings

I have to warn you about the wind that moves
the wind that moves the hair of curtains
I have to warn you about the scattering of feathers
the guineafowls dropped in our yard
I have to warn you about the moles that gnaw
the juicy roots the moles who blindly whore around
in the burrows of ambrosia o I have to warn you
about the shells of stars that hang in trees
because they shine in vain

I have to warn you
against the moon’s misty eye
the sun’s creamy cheek against your face
I have to warn you about the lamb with its back turned on us
with its broken paw and woolly head turned to the stove

I have to warn you
about the lamb that flap its ears in the fan of air
about the dogs barking down the street as they hunt for food
in rubbish bins
about the black rags of birds on the washingline
I have to warn you about my little box of rose paper
with all my jewels the earrings the pendants
and the topaz rings

I have to warn you that all this means nothing to love
less than words less than water less than bread
because love only has eyes for each other
love is without glasses in each other
love is eyes blown against each other

love is without everything without
love is a pine forest
love is a heaving pine forest
where the woodcutter
incessantly cuts

I have to warn you

[translation: Martjie Bosman]

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