Breyten Breytenbach. Vertaling in Engels

Breyten Breytenbach. Tr. by/Vertaal deur Bester Meyer uit Afrikaans  in Engels


4.6 the poem on journey


on now-a-days

and now-a-nights

I take the bird in my head on journey

and I do not know if she will make it

alive to the other side


be calm, I would say-

I know that the coop is confined

and your wings raw from scraping

against the sides


but do not tripple like that:

you are confusing me

with the words –

I know that there is not much food

in the little bowl of memories

and that your wounds will become infected


but see, you are the poem

which I am yet to write

I am saving you from the fatiguing flight, you see


once you would have soared freely

over this ocean

with the wind to lift you on high

until the sun of the land

would vanish into eternity


but that was when you were not blind

and when you did not yet come looking

for my hand


because you are my unwritten line of flight


and if death should be in the motion

then I shall carefully free you

from the little cage of my head

to fondle over the broken corpse

and coo:

look, I hold you on high to smell

the wind

look, I have written you until here

at our destination

look, we are home

at now-a-days

and now-a-nights




6.7 the face in the mirror


it has been written there: thoughts

in order to be

that which movement is

must be compared here

over the level plains

where the heart



the environment: impulse

what shudder is

must be there

for the cognisant

heart to know

that which is given

is to live suspended


because even when there: is nothing

in the glass

the moon is still there

ridden hollowed-back in the black

void’s sizzling reflection

like a metaphor which can never

freely exist outside the poem


but moon-written: erected

to go further

with the sails of stone

forever underway

to the sentient-phantom’s

tracks in the old unknown

harbours of glass


my sister, my fiancé: the need

to be able to console you

like a man extend

the moon-rose

of his love to a woman

is to be the incurable wound

of being begotten

in order to journey: to gain

on the stillness

over the dreaming

landscape of our life

as long as there is a south:

a season’s light

with cloud tongues


to nestle communion’s

motion over mountains

and doves with the cheese

and little word-bowls

on the evening tables

to sacrifice another nine year-rings

as rhyming-strings right before your eyes



[All poems above were published in Afrikaans in op weg na kû Breyten Breytenbach Human & Rousseau, 2019. Translated by Bester Meyer.]

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