Breyten Breytenbach. Vertaling in Engels

Breyten Breytenbach. Vertaling deur/ translation by Ampie Coetzee


lay aside letter for poem


Dear poem, stay with me.

Do not when the end is so near

leave me in the lurch. We have been together in many stories

for years and tides, through lands and landscapes and loves

and  secret rooms where gallows were enthroned,

from the one mask to the other

monkey tricks or apostrophe or funeral. Who knows me better?


I didn’t always treat you well,

misused you, whored with you, even

like a deceiving Peter betrayed you as sentimental weakness

or something one whispers under the mantle for fighters in the mountains

even before the cock throaty crows a third time


Yet I never actually forsook you.

I saw how hard you tried

to be my vanguard and my rearguard

to protect my fear and ectasy, who often you

had to apologize for me.


And now you have come of age – or just simply sick of it?

Now you can mockingly live on your own without me.

But now tarry a little while. Hold my hand tightly

and lead me now I can know or see less and less

to count the words like scarce small change.

Let’s make as if we still like each other

and travel the last syllables together

to where I can let you walk on your own

to the death of the tongue.


Oh, we could have gone further, I grant you that

up to the crossing of borders

where I was to afraid to lose you, my young, guide.

Do you still remember our distant discoveries

in dark trains through the night , klik-klak,

and the dreams I passed on to you,

to wake up before dawn and hungrily

look through the window at new landscapes

of peaked mountains where other wild  poems live –

what are the people doing there?


You are the only one that I ever allowed

into the intimate lost places, to lie with me

and the beloved under the sheet

with your feet like rough metaphors.


And now we are old. I search for you, calling ‘bokkie

-bokkie’ on the yard, paging through tattered notebooks

to see if you have perhaps left a message

(you always had too many lost messages)

But you are gone. You don’t want revenge?


When I wake from the night you had left me

an empty sheet of paper.

Over the work table you look speechless at me.

What do you want to say?


That it has past? I too old and stained?

That I could not protect our thoughts anymore,

the speaking gland no more pierced into you

and you prefer to live in the bush like a beast

to sing and dance of forgotten gods?


Rather kill me before you go.

Stay with me.

Cut my throat as end line!


(weglê brief vir gedig. die beginsel van stof, pp. 34-36. Human & Rouseau. 2011).

(Vertaal deur Ampie Coetzee, 2019)

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Een Kommentaar op “Breyten Breytenbach. Vertaling in Engels”

  1. Johann Scheepers :


    byna blind:
    lang ure, vergrootglas-voor-oog
    ontsyferend aan suffel-maniere-van-verse-in-kleure-en-tale
    bo, onder, skeef, dwars, rondomtalie,om die beelde weggesyfer
    tot amper verdwene
    ver, diep in blou groen of oranje

    ingewerk, stilletjies die vers-spore
    geraam-te-poesie versteek –
    (‘n geprys en gehuil, ‘n gelag en gesmag)
    en dan nog familie: ome Marc uit Vitebsk
    in die branding
    ome Niek in die grot in Spanje
    helend die stil bruine monnik-blou-klip-in-die-hand
    (met sy hart in anderland)

    g’n punt in die dreiging
    g’n punt in tou se verswelging
    as als nou so dy en swel
    druif en vy elkeen ryp aan sy tak

    teen die muur ook die mandjies
    hul boepe wat wag op die oes
    en wag op die pluk
    tot boesels vol

    nooit weggewees
    nog altyd maar hond
    lê wagtend
    iewers rond)