Louis Esterhuizen. Tydlose briewe aan die wêreld

Han-shan (skets), of te wel ‘Cold Mountain’, soos sy naam in Engels vertaal word, was ‘n kluisenaardigter wat in die 8ste eeu in China geleef het en vandag steeds as een van die vernaamste Buddistiese digters gereken word. Nie net het Jack Kerouac sy boek  The Dharma Bums, wat in 1958 verskyn het, aan Han-shan opgedra nie, maar onlangs het daar ook nuwe vertalings van sy gedigte in Engels verskyn. Red Pine, of te wel Bill Porter, was vir dié vertalings verantwoordelik.

Nietemin, Han-shan was blykbaar iets van ‘n boemelaar: bekend vir sy kluisenaarsbestaan (hy het in ‘n grot in die provinsie Chekiang gebly), met ‘n bamboeshoed en verslete klere en houtskoene. Tog was hy van bevoorregte stand en het hy boonop ‘n goeie skoolopvoeding geniet. Sy leefstyl was dus uit eie keuse en hy het glo meer as ‘n honder jaar oud geword. Volgens Fleda Brown se bloginskrywing wat ‘n vriend aan my gestuur het, kan Han-shan se gedigte soos volg beskryf word: “His poems are simple, the tone of a plain man just talking. Because of that, I assume, he wasn’t until recently considered one of China’s canonical poets. If you read a number of these poems-and there are hundreds-you begin to feel his voice and his presence.”

Inderdaad ‘n poësie wat gekenmerk word deur ‘n meesleurende gevoel van tydloosheid; iets wat uiteraard ‘n illusie is, soos Denise Levertov by geleentheid gesê het: “What we need is the ‘illusion’ of having infinite time to write. We know we don’t have infinite time, but to do the work, we need to feel that time is stretching out before us, that we’re going to be able to sink into ourselves and just watch and wait to see what emerges. That watching and waiting may involve a lot of active writing, but it’s exploratory, not driven.” (Soos aangehaal deur Fleda Brown.)

En dan eindig me. Brown haar blog met ‘n versugting wat ‘n mens nogal tot nadenke stem: “What does one do, in this driven age, when we are asked to promote our own books, set up our own readings, blog (ahem) on our websites-all the things that mitigate against solitude, silence, and time? We could be like Albert Goldbarth and a few other Luddites who don’t have computers, who keep their lives pretty simple. Frankly, you can do that IF THE WORLD IS  ALREADY BEATING A PATH TO YOUR DOOR. […] I have had to push upstream against my tendency to hide out, to be a hermit. I like being a hermit. Writing a blog is being a hermit, actually. I am sitting here and thinking out loud and you are there, reading. I’m here, you’re there. I am like Cold Mountain. Do you think he wrote all those poems to amuse himself? Those were his blogs. Or, as Emily Dickinson would have called them, his ‘letter to the world.'”

Ai. Wat ‘n mens darem nie sal doen om op die stoep van jou houthuisie in die berge kan sit en kyk hoe stadig die wêreld verbyskuifel nie, nè. Maar nou ja, dis pure versugting. Soos ‘n ander vriend  van my altyd graag sê: “Of TV and music alone man cannot live.” Ten minste kan ‘n mens darem probeer, grap ek dan gewoonlik.

Nietemin, hieronder volg drie korterige gedigte van die man uit koue streke. (Terloops, die skets heelbo is van Han Shan gemaak deur Soga Sho-haku en is tans in bewaring by die Boston Museum of Fine Arts.)

*** 

Towering cliffs where the home I chose
bird trails beyond human tracks
what does my yard contain
white clouds clinging to dark rocks
every year I’ve lived here
I’ve seen the seasons change
all you owners of tripods and bells
what good are empty names

***

When water is so clear it sparkles
you can see the bottom without effort
when your mind doesn’t have a goal
no circumstances can distract you
once your mind doesn’t chase illusions
even a kalpa* holds no changes                   

if you can be so aware
from such awareness nothing hides

***

Cold Cliff’s remoteness is what I like
no one travels this way
a great peak penetrates the clouds
a lone gibbon howls on the ridge
what could please me more
my heart content I enjoy old age
the seasons change my appearance
but the pearl of my mind stays safe

***

Nota: * kalpa = eon, of ‘n onbepaalde tyd
(c) Han-shan (Vertaal deur: Bill Porter aka red Pine)

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2 Kommentare op “Louis Esterhuizen. Tydlose briewe aan die wêreld”

  1. Louis, jy ken seker ook Phil du Plessis se Afrikaanse vertalings van Han Sjan, “Op Koueberg”, wat uitgegee is deur Snail Press? Petra Muller het ook ‘n mooi gedig oor Han Sjan geskryf.

  2. Louis :

    Inderdaad het ek hiervan vergeet, Daniel. Het vinnig gekyk, en ja – ons het voorraad van sowel Phil du Plessis se “Op Koueberg” as Petra Müller se gedigtereeks wat in “My plek se naam is Waterval”.
    Hieronder een van Phil du Plessis se omdigtings:

    Nr. 32

    Ons lewe in stof
    soos ‘n gogga in ‘n bak,
    wat heeldag rondkrabbel
    maar nooit ontsnap nie.
    Ewige wysheid is onbereikbaar
    en daar’s altyd moeilikheid.
    Maande en jare gaan verby
    en skielik is ons oud.

    Ook vinnig gekyk na MM Walters se “Shi-Ching Liedereboek”; dog, vreemd genoeg het Han-Sjan by hom verby gegaan …

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