Posts Tagged ‘Johan Myburg vertaling in Engels’

Johan Myburg – Vertaling in Engels

Tuesday, January 17th, 2012

Johan Myburg – vertaal deur/ translated by Charl JF Cilliers


Johan Myburg
Johan Myburg

Johan Myburg published his first volume of poems Vlugskrif in 1984, to be followed ten years later by Kontrafak which won the Eugene Marais Prize. Kamermusiek was published by Lapa in 2008. In this volume the room is the central space in which events occur. But the room also includes spaces above and beyond the living space. In the room recorded journeys are transformed into poetry. Apart from his poetic output, Myburg is also a journalist and art critic. He lives and works in Johannesburg, studied philosophy, psychology and theology, and is at present engaged in post-graduate studies in the visual arts.



Los Veranos de la Villa



In Madrid it never snows; it is always

summer. Do not believe the claims of weather

charts, they’re all untrue. Where I am sitting

summer geraniums bloom in pots warm as soil


lushly dangling from balconies; the city drones

sonorously; the beautiful bodies of madrileños wear

the sun, parading rhythmically along the Gran Via,

down Fuencarral, in Augusto Figueroa, from club


to club. In Madrid it never snows; the weather

is never inclement. Every night it stays light until at least

nine o’clock; sultry nights ooze the sweet fragrance

of privets. Where I now sit staring at photos


the dreamer still clings to that intrepid glow.

In my album, in Madrid it’s always high summer now.


(From: Kamermusiek, Lapa, 2008)

(Tr. by Charl JF Cilliers)



Full Moon


Half-moon over the azul sea –

in my ears the sea’s melancholic murmur

over thousands of tiny egg-like stones – were I

brave I could breezily say: time

to go on is half-way here.

Now with a magic spell I would have

liked to fix the round moon to a finial;

to stop the sweet rose’s

ultimate unfolding;

to strip a mast of every frill

and wrap in red and yellow

the ticking tower clock as ornament.


This evening on Santa Eulalia

Square my tongue is too indolent.



16 July 2000

(From: Kamermusiek, Lapa, 2008)

(Tr. by Charl JF Cilliers)



Of Rage and Remembrance

John Corigliano

Symphony No 1


The door opens onto a party

at the home of a gallant pair.

Music carries guests through a hallway,

through several rooms where


people are dancing rhythmically, with

superficial talk and uninhibited bright

laughter, coquettish flirting; through sliding doors

out into the night,


onto the terrace where exuberant

guests – who, being dead,                     

had not been invited – move shadow-like

against the walls like huge dread


lizards. Deeper into the garden

faintly far away a piano

remembers the wistful melody

of Albeniz’s tango.


(From: Kamermusiek, Lapa, 2008)

(Tr. by Charl JF Cilliers)



Intimate Letters


Dear Leonard, because I have kept track,

my whole life long,

of various demons doggedly on my spoor

I am now writing back.

Intend to write about Death. But thin

as a worm Life keeps burrowing in. 



That you are so far

away tonight and all meanings are

as endlessly arbitrary as a star,

of this I am and will remain aware.

If I should write: “I love you”,

is it forever or just for now?

Is it with the tackiness of convention

that we stick together with a vow?


And if I say: “I love you”,

am I perhaps saying more

about me, about me, than about you?


So easy to think

that I know you: to describe

how every morning you swing

your legs out of bed — lay

patterns down, pre-empt what you say –

how at night, tired of reading,

you douse the light and curl up

like a fetus under the blankets.

Why do I specifically notice that;

add that to my list?

How much do I fail to notice?

All that I understand

of you is solely my portrayal, a pursuit

of an adventure I have planned.


Tonight in this hesitant house

your dog and I sleep together


Tried to explain that you were

living somewhere else. Tried

to convince him that separation was

a given; tried to teach him that being

is eventually relinquished.



Dear L

There is so much that I have to tell.

You’re right. From here on, no

more suicide notes. So

do we begin from scratch? If I upset

you, I offer my sincere regret.

It was never my intention. Be

aware (as before, that is what’s funny!)

that alone I cannot make it. I would deceive

myself if I thought I could. Believe

me when I tell you that I need you so.

More than you can ever know.

You’re good for me. Through thick

and thin you’ve always been quick

to adjust to my whims, my anxiety

and obsessions. You were beside me

through the madness with its endless pain.

Oh, can we then not start again?

So much that I still want to write


NB. If in an unguarded moment I were to…

Please promise to burn all my letters to you


instead of feeling I would rather

write, jot down, make lists

of feeling in the past tense: could

would, should. Use words like those.

perhaps. more tenuous tentative

symbols that make room for certainties

of loss. perhaps a grammar

of reproach. syntax of succumbing.


fear losing

my senses

in a nursery rhyme





Did you feel a little tug

as if your neck had snapped                 

that Friday at five to ten

time of death stoppage elision…


Must rewrite everything now

everything lying around: disjointed unbearable impossible

feel the nausea rising. Will

my feeling for you change now?


Lived in you for so long

What will the outcome really be?

Did you ever exist?

Did I just imagine you?



(From: Kamermusiek, Lapa, 2008)

(Tr. by Charl JF Cilliers)



Spinning Song


sail wide, my dearest, sail deep

across boundless seas, plow

your bowsprit through waves, ride too


the tide and underwater streams

set your sails to the wind

or to signals of lustful gods.


listen, dearest, to the voices

that drive you. listen to sirens’

songs. make plans, you


and your men – bind yourselves

with ropes, plug your ears with wax.

sail wide, my dearest, sail deep.


call in at islands, drink

wine, soak up the sun, tarry

and regain your strength for more


adventures. sail wide, my dearest,

sail deep across the ocean: tanned

and hardened by deprivation.


pursue stars, plan your journey

without a map and free, let horizons

guide you. sail wide, my dearest,


sail deep. i wash the fleece spin

billowing wool to thread, weave

flax to dishcloths, weave blankets.


i imprint you on a series

of tapestries. sail wide, my dearest.

i pen you in my weaver’s loom.


(From: Kamermusiek, Lapa, 2008)

(Tr. by Charl JF Cilliers)



Birthday Letters


And now, reading Ted Hughes,

a fish falls from the pages

shaped from binding wire one day

when we were still fishing, were flesh.

The wire left a mark, small

indentations in paper. Strange

that I kept something like that in a book

was always so careful with books

“That day the solar system married us

Whether we knew it or not”

Behind the ink my fingers feel, engraved

in the grain, the message in Braille

of the meteorite through our chimney

with our names written on it


(From: Kamermusiek, Lapa, 2008)

(Tr. by Charl JF Cilliers)





Charl JF Cilliers  was born in 1941 in Cape Town. Initially he went into the field of electronics and lectured for 4 years. He then joined Parliament as a translator in 1968 and retired in 1998 as Editor of Hansard. His first volume of poems West-Falling Light appeared in 1971, to be followed by Has Winter No Wisdom in 1978. His Collected Poems 1960 – 2008 appeared in 2008 and The Journey in 2010. His latest volume of poetry , A momentary stay.  was published in 2011. He also published a volume of children’s poems, Fireflies Facing The Moon, in 2008. He has retired to the Cape West Coast where he continues to write.