Posts Tagged ‘Breyten Breytenbach vertaling’

Breyten Breytenbach. Vertaling in Engels

Friday, August 30th, 2019

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.]

Breyten Breytenbach. Vertaling in Engels

Wednesday, August 28th, 2019

Breyten Breytenbach. Vertaal deur Bester Meyer uit Afrikaans in Engels


6.11 Hopper Hotel


like a niggard is possessive

so too am I over every place

wherever I come which may be suitable

for the exiting voyage to the star-well void

of pebbles and crickets





both times without number

but grind

will you be ground

until one times one is two)


for a long time I fondled with the endgame

like a suckling poem in the cheek:

fancied that the time of passing would come

in a dirty boarding-house

somewhere in a forsaken industrial area

within earshot-edge of the ocean’s scales and shells

where glutted rats rummage on the world’s waste,

with the landlady a measured/hollowed/retired whore –


to be there

preferably by new moon as a final casting to that on the other side

which could neither be understood nor echoed

and which I always wanted to experience as the truth

(me as well: you are oppressing the lucency of a teardrop in vain) –

taking to one’s heels

bedstead-naked in the kip

of some other man’s worn-out sheets

quenching the breath


until here I had to come in order to perceive

that to wait anonymous in the factitiousness

of a luxurious seaside resort

can also make do for this idling emptied-word

from fullness’ existence


until now

where the chamberlains smile as if they know me

because they have read the secrets of the night’s journey

and we would as if sharing a language of people

that comes from afar out of a world’s completeness

(to always die away)

and therefore enable the venus-hide of an ocean full of moon memories’

grinding and partitioning

to be entered





all that at any time existed

all that at any time lived

all that make the void shiver

to leave a mark

for the evading

of the breath of always

and will therefore be forever

for the only way to remember life

beyond its grasp

is to secure it safely

beneath the canvas(sing) of moonforget –

every breath of air grass-blade mantis cloud

bird-song cloud pencil song

tongue and cloud clan

my brother bumpkin, is buddha


all that bleeds into buddha(be)(ing)

is pumpkin-moon

and you are only (an) awakening

to go below

to go above

in this life

and thus to keep on shivering in death


you are allowed to cry

for everything cries

in the silence of being

you are allowed to ripple outwards

an enter the singingly intimate non-being


therefore: should you come across brother

buddha on the way to Kû:


put him to death

with all the love

of your dying-being


and eat!  that sweet pumpkin


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

Breyten Breytenbach – vertaling in Engels

Thursday, March 14th, 2019

Breyten Breytenbach – Vertaal deur Ampie Coetzee


New York, 12 September 2001

 Then it went dark.  Real dark. Like snow’ – words of a survivor


will the hand keep writing

will any poem have enough weight

to leave a strip of flight across the deserted landscape

ever have enough face against death’s dark silence

who will then tell


this large antheap of people are skinned today

sombre and abused, clear and foggy

as if the sordid brown of spluttering towers

still sweeps the skyline away like a dirty flag


images keep lamenting for expression beyond the eye

airplanes are bombs filled with scrapnel of soft bodies

then the inferno of flaming flowers from skyscrapers

human flares like crashing angels from the highest storey

down, down, beside glimmering buildings of glass and steel

weightless and slim and streamline – winged

a shooting star mirrored in the fleetin bg language of forget  –

the hellhound of destruction has a red, laughing tongue


who will tell who can tell

the eye does not understand the sky is blue

through the sad and chilly winter of the atom

people stumble people slide people crawl people-people

where are the faces laying


old for their years or conjugal togetherness

from skull to toes grey of ash


under rubbish and debris rosy bodies mumble and move

and in the East River confidential files are drifting

and tatters and feathers torn human flesh

scorched confetti of the dog’s feast


where are the faces

will the tongue still think tomorrow tomorrow

can still pulse in the dark lair

with the flaming memory of joy

will any poem someday somewhere have enough weight

to leave a handwriting that speaks of fall and forget

will death keep quivering in the paper


[die windvanger. Breyten Breytenbach. Human & Rousseau. 2007 p. 56-57]


Translated by Ampie Coetzee


Breyten Breytenbach. Vertaling in Engels

Friday, January 18th, 2019

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)