T.S. Eliot. Vertaling in Afrikaans

 

Versindaba kompetisie vir vertaalde gedigte (65)

 

Die Minnesang van J. Alfred Prufrock

T.S. Eliot

 

As ek gedink het dat my antwoord gegee sal word

aan enigeen wat ooit weer na die wêreld sou terugkeer,

sal hierdie vlam botstil gestaan het sonder om verder te beweeg.

Maar aangesien niemand vanuit hierdie afgrond

nog ooit lewend teruggekeer het nie, as wat ek hoor waar is,

antwoord ek jou sonder vrees vir skande.

 

Inferno XXVII, 61 – 66

 

Kom ons gaan dan, ek en jy,

Wanneer die skemer teen die hemel uitsprei

Soos ‘n pasiënt onder eter op ‘n tafel;

Kom ons gaan, deur daardie half-verlate strate,

Die prewelende skuilplekke

Van rustelose nagte in eennag goedkoop hotelle

En saagsel-restaurante met oesterskulpe:

Strate wat volg soos ‘n lastige argument

Met arglistige voornemens

Om jou te lei na ‘n oorweldigende vraag …

O, moenie vra: ‘Wat is dit?’

Kom ons gaan en doen besoek.

 

In die kamer kom en gaan die vroue

En gesels oor Michelangelo.

 

Die geel mis wat sy rug teen die vensterbanke skuur,

Die geel rook wat sy snoet teen die vensterbanke skuur,

Het sy tong in die hoeke van die aand ingelek,

Gehuiwer oor die poele wat in afvoerslote staan,

Die roet wat van skoorstene val op sy rug laat val,

Verby die terras geglip, opeens ‘n sprong gemaak,

En in die aangesig van ‘n sagte Oktobernag,

Om die huis gekrul en aan die slaap geraak.

 

En inderdaad sal daar tyd wees,

Vir die geel rook wat deur die strate gly

En sy rug teen die vensterbanke vryf;

Daar sal tyd wees, daar sal tyd wees

Om ‘n gesig voor te berei om die gesigte te ontmoet wat jy ontmoet;

Daar sal tyd wees om te moor en om te skep,

En tyd vir al die werke en dae van die hande

Wat ‘n vraag oplig en op jou bord laat val;

Tyd vir jou en tyd vir my,

En tyd vir ‘n honderd weifelings,

En vir ‘n honderd sienings en hersienings,

Voor die instel van ‘n heildronk en tee.

 

In die kamer kom en gaan die vroue

En gesels oor Michelangelo.

 

En inderdaad sal daar tyd wees,

Om te wonder: ‘Durf ek?’ en, ‘Durf ek?’

Tyd om terug te draai en met die trap af te daal,

Met ‘n bles kol in die middel van my hare –

(Hulle sal sê: ‘Hoe yl raak sy hare!’)

My oggendjas, my kraag ferm teen my ken,

My stropdas ryk en beskeie, maar bevestig deur ‘n eenvoudige speld –

(Hulle sal sê: ‘Maar hoe dun is sy arms en bene!’)

Durf ek

Die heelal versteur?

Oor ‘n minuut is daar tyd

Vir besluite en hersienings wat ‘n minuut sal omkeer.

 

Want ek ken hulle almal al, ken hulle almal–

Het die aande, oggende, middae geken,

Ek het my lewe met koffielepels uitgemeet;

Ek ken die stemme wat wegsterf met ‘n sterwende herfs

Onder die musiek uit ‘n veraf vertrek.

So, hoe sal ek veronderstel?

 

En ek het die oë al geken, almal geken –

Die oë wat jou in ‘n geformuleerde frase vaspen,

En wanneer ek geformuleer is, uitgestrek op ‘n speld,

Wanneer ek vasgepen en kriewelend teen die muur hang,

Hoe moet ek dan begin

Om al die stompies van my dae en weë uit te spoeg?

En hoe sal ek veronderstel?

 

En ek het die arms al geken, almal geken –

Arms met armbande en wit en kaal

(Maar in die lamplig met ‘n ligbruin dons!)

Is dit parfuum van ‘n rok

Wat my so laat afwyk?

Arms wat op ‘n tafel rus, of om ‘n sjaal gedraai.

En sal ek dan veronderstel?

En hoe moet ek begin?

 

. . . . . . . . . .

 

Sal ek sê, ek het teen skemer deur die nou strate gegaan

En die rook gesien wat uit die pype styg

Van eensame mans in kortmoue, wie uit vensters leun?…

 

Ek moes ‘n paar knoesterige kloue gewees het

Wat oor die beddings van swygende seë skarrel.

 

. . . . . . . . . .

 

En die middag, die aand, slaap so rustig!

Uitgestryk deur slank vingers,

Slapend … moeg … of siekwees feins,

Uitgestrek op die vloer, hier langs jou en my.

Sal ek, na tee en koek en waterys,

Die krag hê om die oomblik tot krisis te bring?

Maar, al het ek geween en gevas, geween en gebid,

Al het ek my kop gesien (reeds effens bles),

op ‘n skinkbord ingedra,

Is ek geen profeet – en hier’s geen groot saak nie;

Ek het die oomblik van my grootsheid sien flikker,

En ek het die ewige Lakei my jas sien vashou, sien

giggel,

En kortom, ek was bang.

 

En sou dit tog die moeite werd gewees het, na alles,

Na die koppies, die marmelade, die tee,

Tussen die porselein, tussen gesprekke oor jou en my,

Sou dit die moeite werd gewees het

Om die saak met ‘n glimlag af te gebyt het,

Om die heelal saam te gebal het

Om dit te rol na ‘n oorweldigende vraag,

Om te sê: ‘Ek is Lasarus, terug van die dood,

Terug om julle alles te vertel, ek sal julle alles vertel’ –

As een, besig om ‘n kussing onder haar kop in te skuif,

Sou sê: ‘Dit is glad nie wat ek bedoel het nie.

Dit is glad nie dit nie.’

 

En sou dit tog die moeite werd gewees het, na alles,

Sou dit die moeite werd gewees het,

Na die sonsondergange en die agterplase en die besprinkelde strate,

Na die romans, na die teekoppies, na die rompe wat oor die vloer sleep –

En dit, en soveel meer? –

Dis onmoontlik om te sê nét wat ek bedoel!

 

Maar asof ‘n towerlamp die senudrade in patrone teen ‘n skerm gooi:

Sou dit die moeite werd gewees het

As een, besig om ‘n kussing reg te skuif of ‘n sjaal af te gooi,

En na die venster te draai, sou sê:

‘Dit is glad nie dit nie,

Dit is glad nie wat ek bedoel het nie.’

 

. . . . . . . . . .

 

Nee! Ek is nie Prins Hamlet nie, ook nie bedoel om te wees nie;

Ek is ‘n lyfbediende, een wat sal deug

Om ‘n vooruitgang te laat gedy, ‘n toneel of twee te begin,

Die prins te adviseer; sonder twyfel ‘n maklike hulpmiddel,

Inskiklik, bly om van hulp te wees,

Taktvol, versigtig en noulettend;

Vol groot woorde, maar ‘n bietjie dom;

Soms, byna lagwekkend –

Soms, byna die Dwaas.

 

Ek word oud … ek word oud …

Ek sal my broekspype onder opgerol dra,

 

Sal ek my hare agter skei? Durf ek ‘n perske eet?

Ek sal wit flenniebroeke dra, en op die strand gaan stap.

Ek het die meerminne vir mekaar hoor sing.

 

Ek dink nie hulle sal vir my sing nie.

 

Ek het hulle seewaarts op die branders sien ry,

En die wit hare van die teruggewaaide branders sien kam

Wanneer die wind die water wit en swart waai.

 

Ons het in die kamers van die see getalm

By see-meisies met kranse van rooi en bruin seewier

Totdat mense-stemme ons wek, en ons verdrink.

 

 

The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock

T.S. Eliot

 

S’io credesse che mia risposta fosse

A persona che mai tornasse al mondo,

Questa fiamma staria senza piu scosse.

Ma perciocche giammai di questo fondo

Non torno vivo alcun, s’i’odo il vero,

Senza tema d’infamia ti rispondo.

 

Let us go then, you and I,

When the evening is spread out against the sky

Like a patient etherised upon a table;

Let us go, through certain half-deserted streets,

The muttering retreats

Of restless nights in one-night cheap hotels

And sawdust restaurants with oyster-shells:

Streets that follow like a tedious argument

Of insidious intent

To lead you to an overwhelming question…

Oh, do not ask, “What is it?”

Let us go and make our visit.

 

In the room the women come and go

Talking of Michelangelo.

 

The yellow fog that rubs its back upon the window-panes,

The yellow smoke that rubs its muzzle on the window-panes

Licked its tongue into the corners of the evening,

Lingered upon the pools that stand in drains,

Let fall upon its back the soot that falls from chimneys,

Slipped by the terrace, made a sudden leap,

And seeing that it was a soft October night,

Curled once about the house, and fell asleep.

 

And indeed there will be time

For the yellow smoke that slides along the street,

Rubbing its back upon the window-panes;

There will be time, there will be time

To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet;

There will be time to murder and create,

And time for all the works and days of hands

That lift and drop a question on your plate;

Time for you and time for me,

And time yet for a hundred indecisions,

And for a hundred visions and revisions,

Before the taking of a toast and tea.

 

In the room the women come and go

Talking of Michelangelo.

 

And indeed there will be time

To wonder, “Do I dare?” and, “Do I dare?”

Time to turn back and descend the stair,

With a bald spot in the middle of my hair—

[They will say: “How his hair is growing thin!”]

My morning coat, my collar mounting firmly to the chin,

My necktie rich and modest, but asserted by a simple pin—

[They will say: “But how his arms and legs are thin!”]

Do I dare

Disturb the universe?

In a minute there is time

For decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse.

 

For I have known them all already, known them all:—

Have known the evenings, mornings, afternoons,

I have measured out my life with coffee spoons;

I know the voices dying with a dying fall

Beneath the music from a farther room.

So how should I presume?

 

And I have known the eyes already, known them all—

The eyes that fix you in a formulated phrase,

And when I am formulated, sprawling on a pin,

When I am pinned and wriggling on the wall,

Then how should I begin

To spit out all the butt-ends of my days and ways?

And how should I presume?

 

And I have known the arms already, known them all—

Arms that are braceleted and white and bare

[But in the lamplight, downed with light brown hair!]

Is it perfume from a dress

That makes me so digress?

Arms that lie along a table, or wrap about a shawl.

And should I then presume?

And how should I begin?

 

. . . . . . . . . .

 

Shall I say, I have gone at dusk through narrow streets

And watched the smoke that rises from the pipes

Of lonely men in shirt-sleeves, leaning out of windows?

 

I should have been a pair of ragged claws

Scuttling across the floors of silent seas.

 

. . . . . . . . . .

 

And the afternoon, the evening, sleeps so peacefully!

Smoothed by long fingers,

Asleep…tired…or it malingers,

Stretched on the floor, here beside you and me.

Should I, after tea and cakes and ices,

Have the strength to force the moment to its crisis?

But though I have wept and fasted, wept and prayed,

Though I have seen my head [grown slightly bald] brought in upon a platter,

I am no prophet—and here’s no great matter;

I have seen the moment of my greatness flicker,

And I have seen the eternal Footman hold my coat, and snicker,

And in short, I was afraid.

 

And would it have been worth it, after all,

After the cups, the marmalade, the tea,

Among the porcelain, among some talk of you and me,

Would it have been worth while,

To have bitten off the matter with a smile,

To have squeezed the universe into a ball

To roll it toward some overwhelming question,

To say: “I am Lazarus, come from the dead,

Come back to tell you all, I shall tell you all”—

If one, settling a pillow by her head,

Should say: “That is not what I meant at all.

That is not it, at all.”

 

And would it have been worth it, after all,

Would it have been worth while,

After the sunsets and the dooryards and the sprinkled streets,

After the novels, after the teacups, after the skirts that trail along the floor—

And this, and so much more?—

It is impossible to say just what I mean!

But as if a magic lantern threw the nerves in patterns on a screen:

Would it have been worth while

If one, settling a pillow or throwing off a shawl,

And turning toward the window, should say:

“That is not it at all,

That is not what I meant, at all.”

 

. . . . . . . . . .

 

No! I am not Prince Hamlet, nor was meant to be;

Am an attendant lord, one that will do

To swell a progress, start a scene or two,

Advise the prince; no doubt, an easy tool,

Deferential, glad to be of use,

Politic, cautious, and meticulous;

Full of high sentence, but a bit obtuse;

At times, indeed, almost ridiculous—

Almost, at times, the Fool.

 

I grow old…I grow old…

I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled.

 

Shall I part my hair behind? Do I dare to eat a peach?

I shall wear white flannel trousers, and walk upon the beach.

I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each.

 

I do not think that they will sing to me.

 

I have seen them riding seaward on the waves

Combing the white hair of the waves blown back

When the wind blows the water white and black.

 

We have lingered in the chambers of the sea

By sea-girls wreathed with seaweed red and brown

Till human voices wake us, and we drown.

 

Bronverwysing:

Eliot, T.S. 1963. Collected Poems (1909 – 1962).

 

 

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