H.J.Pieterse – vertaling in Engels

 H.J. (Henning) Pieterse – vertaal deur/ translated by Leon de Kock  

 

HJ Pieterse
HJ Pieterse

 H.J. (Henning) Pieterse was born on 8 August, 1960, in Wageningen, the Netherlands. He was the final editor of John Boje’s ‘n Keur uit die Pelgrimsverhale van Geoffrey Chaucer (A Selection From the Pilgrim’s Stories of Geoffrey Chaucer, 1989). From 1993 to 2003 he was Editor in Chief of Tydskrif vir Letterkunde (Journal of Literature and Literary Studies). For his debut volume of poetry, Alruin (Mandrake, 1989), he received the Eugene Marais and Ingrid Jonker prizes. In 1998 he published a volume of short stories, Omdat Ons Alles Is (Because We Are Everything), and in 2000 a second volume of poems, Die Burg van Hertog Bloubaard (The Castle of Duke Bluebeard), for which he received the Hertzog Prize in 2002. In 2007 he published a translation of Rilke’s Duineser Elegien / Duino Elegies. Pieterse is currently Professor and Head of the Unit for Creative Writing at the University of Pretoria.

 

 

Arabesque

 

The desert landscape of your back

is whimsical, like September.

 

My fingers hesitate on the brink,

buck arriving at water.

 

At oases you stir up the air,

oases that disappear again.

 

For yet another night

the fog preserves you.

 

You dream like a Moorish tower

alone against the sky.

 

Your voice is dust in the passageways;

are you waiting for a cry from the mosque?

 

My thoughts circle you

like doves a minaret.

 

Always you return, return

to the dunes of your youth.

 

My voice doesn’t know you.

All music sinks into silence.

 

The passages to the square

are still

 

and you melt into the dunes,

whimsical, like September.

 

(From: Alruin, HAUM-Literêr, 1989)

(Tr. by Leon de Kock)

 

 

Wing

 

It was freezing cold in the Free State.

Under grey air, next to a ditch of dull water

I found the last, kicking African coot;

one wing and a paw crushed by my trap.

 

I carried him home, tried to keep him warm,

fed him maize; he wanted nothing of it.

He pecked halfheartedly and, with a webbed claw

scraped at my begging hands.

 

For two whole days I sat and looked

at the strange wildness in his eyes.

His agitated heart felt odd under my hand,

until a pall spread across his sight.

 

In the grey time just after midnight

wind now rattles down the chimney.

From behind icy clouds around a lost moon

gusts of rain fly up against my windows.

 

I must still get used to your body,

you murmer, tired and ruffled here next to me.

Your head is half-hidden under my shoulder;

with a hand you try to still my strange heartbeat.

 

Before the membranes of sleep stretch too far,

I clamp your twitching heart in my mouth.

You rub warm my knobbed wing, my whole back,

and wonder which of us will want to flee first with the flock.

 

(From: Die Burg van Hertog Bloubaard, Tafelberg, 2000)

(Tr. by Leon de Kock)

 

 

The second-last day

 

You walk quietly alongside me. Clouds hang too low

over the water. You ask about the spume,

about far-off dark spots, the sea’s special tune

today. I can hear how the gulls chase their shadows.

 

Quickly you walk ahead of me; your tracks disappear

before the sand sucks them in. I feel something scream.

Sea bamboo that tossed its hair in currents

now lies washed up, here, stinking like a corpse.

 

Octopus remains, rotten fish-heads give you pause.

Then you flick your hair back over your shoulder

in front of me. Suddenly it is dark, and colder

in a spot of sun than it was, earlier, beneath the rocks.

 

You are coming after me, your eyes already crook.

I suspect your shadow steps; I am too afraid to look.

 

(From: Die Burg van Hertog Bloubaard, Tafelberg, 2000)

(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. 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.

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