Hennie Aucamp – vertaling in Engels

Hennie Aucamp – vertaal deur/ translated by Charl CF Cilliers 

Hennie Aucamp

Hennie Aucamp

Hennie Aucamp grew up on the farm Rust-mijn-ziel in the Jamestown district. His first volume of short stories Een somermiddag appeared in 1963, and he has subsequently published 18 collections of short stories, and also reviews, essays and prose collections. Apart from his translations of Bertold Brecht’s work, Aucamp published six volumes of poetry. The most recent, Ghoera, appeared in 2011. The literary prizes Aucamp has won include the Hertzog Prize (1982), the Fleur du Cap Prize (1987 and 2004), the Recht Malan Prize (1997), the ATKV-veertjie Award (2004) and the Afrikaans-Onbeperk Award of the KKNK. In 2005 he received the Gustav Preller Prize of the Suid-Afrikaanse Akademie vir Wetenskap en Kuns.


The Waterman and the Fish


The Fish is what your star sign is

and I am an Aquarius.


I carry water all the time –

in which you swim and feel sublime.


The past is where your visions dwell –

the present is my citadel.


You live a dream and shelter there –

I seek the how, the why, the where.


But in the Blue Hour’s magic view

land and water dream as one, not two,


and contour flows, disintegrates,

as if all firmness enervates.


We raise our glasses in the air

and seek in wine some balance there.


I drink to you, the silver Fish,

your lofty, evanescent swish.


“Aquarius” – one of your retorts,

“ride every wave till it aborts!”


Are we part of a watery race?

Is blue our mortal carapace?


We ask no more; we drink and pour

till both are one and one is more:


I, Waterman, am now a Fish,

and you, the Fish, Aquarius.


(From: Lyflied (compiler:Daniel Hugo):Liedtekste, Hennie Aucamp, Tafelberg, 1999)

(Tr. Charl JF Cilliers)



Caravaggio (1571 – 1610)


Artist and pimp, and whore, often as not;

and all three roles inspired you a lot,

like ritual cellar wine of some cardinal

for whom you had a quota to fulfil:


young bucks from alleyways and some back streets

still stinking of sweaty semened sheets;

and after use you had them all enshrined

in canvases the Church defined.


But sometimes, in a quiet hour,

you’d paint fruit, a loaf of bread, a flower,

then off to some court case, murder, brawl –

deeply disturbed as you were by it all,


poete maudit, in you we realise

the unrest clearly echoed in our eyes.


(From: Hittegolf: wulpse sonnette met ʼn nawoord, Hennie Aucamp, Homeros, 2002)

(Tr. Charl JF Cilliers)



The Rummer, the Wine, the Carafe


From what old and dusty bottle

did the carafe receive its fill

where, bloated, by a bowl it stood,

its vintage lost in time for good.


In the bowl a gleaming shell,

beside the grapes in bright array,

but oyster flesh must quickly swell:

life is a staged morality play.


The rummer with its ornamental

stem had tipped over onto the damask –

and the all-pervasive, slanting light

reveals a dried stain from an old wine flask.


The moment’s what we have each day:

no matter how fleeting its rich bouquet.


(From: Dryfhout, Hennie Aucamp, Tafelberg, 2005)

(Tr. Charl JF Cilliers)



The Smaller Universe


A herd instinct inheres in trees;

they stand together in a wood:

arboreally all elements, with ease,

contrive to promote the general good.


When birds in their nests in the forks

of trees void berry seeds onto the ground,

small creatures, bark-brown or even mousey,

like autumn leaves will scurry round.


Brushwood thrives in the incubating sphere

under green crowns of always-varying hue

and stag-horn ferns cling to the stems,

while everywhere mushrooms come into view.


It’s here in the twilight depths of the bush

that cathedral-building has begun

where, through leaves, like flickering candle light,

patches of moss are sought by the sun.


Those who, with axes and timber saws,

invade nature’s pristine sacredness

aren’t only destroying this natural wood,

but the immortal soul of the human race.


(From: Vlamsalmander, Hennie Aucamp, Protea, 2008)

(Tr. Charl JF Cilliers)



Three Anchor Bay


A cold wind brought the shocks

of mist that filled the tranquil bay,

transforming seagulls into flocks

of bobbing flecks of spray.


Were they present on that night,

heads tucked beneath a wing,

when Ingrid, in seaweed-tangled fright,

made her last offering?


How could they know, with their eyes closed,

being flecks of spray and seagulls too?

The sea slides hissing over sand:

of suicide there is no clue.


(From: Versindaba 2008, Marlise Joubert [compiler], Protea Boekhuis, 2008)

(Tr. Charl JF Cilliers)



Baking Day on Rust-mijn-ziel


Nothing instils more holiness than bread:

kneading the dough and letting it rise

till it outgrows the paraffin tin in size

and is taken and very carefully fed


into the splinter-twig shimmering flare

of hot-oven air, lower door latched and sealed tight

with dung. Then the tense Biblical vigil: What might

emerge after the dough has been reborn there,


a new body emerging of earth and corn?

The bread comes out and is then prized free

— o Sharon, o Zion, lift up your horn! —

the bread as perfect as it can be


but something remains of earth and dust:

a grey twig of ash, a crack in its crust.



(Tr. Charl JF Cilliers)

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