Posts Tagged ‘Mahmoud Darwish’

Mahmoud Darwish – vertaling in Afrikaans

Sunday, October 7th, 2018

Mahmoud Darwish – vertaling deur Helize van Vuuren




Ek het die wrakstukke binne my gedra,

     al hoër voel rys  –    Silal Antoon


Halt sodat ek dié plek en sy leegte

met ou odes kan weeg

vol vallende vlermuis en vlug

Vir elke rym maak ons ’n hutjie staan

Vir elke huis deur stormwinde plat geslaan

is daar ’n rym.

– Mahmoud Darwish (verwerk HvV 3 Oktober 2018)

Desmond Painter. Mahmoud Darwish se gedig oor Edward Said

Monday, July 8th, 2013

Vanmiddag toe ek op Facebook gaan loer, kom ek af op hierdie mooi foto van Edward Said en Mahmoud Darwish – en onthou toe ook die pragtige gedig, ‘Counterpoint’, wat Darwish na Said se dood (in 2003 – dit is ook al 10 jaar gelede, kan jy dit glo?) geskryf het:

CounterpointMahmoud Darwish



Shards of light in a leaden sky.

In the shadows, I asked my foreign soul: is this city Babylon or Sodom?

There, at the edge of an electric chasm sky high, I met Edward thirty years ago.

The times were less impetuous.

Each said to the other:

If your past is your experience, make the future sense and vision!

Let us move forward, towards our future, confident in imagination’s sincerity and the miracle of the grass.

I no longer remember whether we went to the cinema that evening, but I heard old Indian braves call out to me: trust neither the horse nor modernity.

No. No victim asks his executioner: if I were you and my sword greater than my rose . . . would I have acted as you have done?

That kind of question arouses the curiosity of the novelist who sits behind the glass walls of his study overlooking the lily garden . . . Here the hypothesis is lily-white, clear as the author’s conscience if he closes his accounts with human nature . . . No future behind us, so let us move forward!

Progress could be the bridge back to barbarity . . .

New York. Edward awakes while dawn slumbers on. He plays an air by Mozart. Tennis on the university court. He reflects on thought’s ability to transcend borders and barriers. Thumbs through the New York Times. Writes his spirited column. Curses an orientalist who guides a general to the weak spot in an eastern woman’s heart. Showers. Drinks his white coffee. Picks out a suit with a dandy’s elegance and calls on the dawn to stop dawdling!

He walks on the wind. And, in the wind, he knows himself. No four walls hem in the wind. And the wind is a compass for the north in a foreign land.

He says: I come from that place. I come from here, and I am neither here nor there. I have two names that come together but pull apart. I have two languages, but I have forgotten which is the language of my dreams. I have the English language with its accommodating vocabulary to write in. And another tongue drawn from celestial conversations with Jerusalem. It has a silvery resonance, but rebels against my imagination.

And your identity? Said I.

His response: Self-defence . . . Conferred on us at birth, in the end it is we who fashion our identity, it is not hereditary. I am manifold . . . Within me, my outer self renewed. But I belong to the victim’s interrogation.

Were I not from that place, I would have trained my heart to raise metonymy’s gazelle there . . .

So take your birthplace along wherever you go and be a narcissist if need be.

– Exile, the outside world. Exile, the hidden world. Who then are you between them?

– I do not introduce myself lest I lose myself. I am what I am.

I am my other in harmonious duality between word and geste.

Were I a poet, I should have written:

I am two in one, like the swallow’s wings.

And if spring is late coming, I am content to be its harbinger!

He loves countries and leaves them. (Is the impossible remote?) He loves to migrate towards everything. Travelling freely between cultures, there is room for all who seek the essence of man.

A margin moves forward and a centre retreats. The East is not completely the East, nor the West, the West. Identity is multifaceted.

It is neither a citadel nor is it absolute.

The metaphor slumbered on one bank of the river. Had it not been for the pollution,

It would have embraced the other.

– Have you written your novel?

– I have tried . . . sought to find my image reflected in distant women. But they have retreated into their fortified night. And they have said: our universe does not depend on words. No man will capture in words the woman, an enigma and a dream. No woman will capture the man, symbol and star. No love is like another; no night like another. Let us list men’s virtues and laugh!

– And what did you do?

– I laughed at my own absurdity and threw my novel away.

The thinker restrains the novelist’s tale, while the philosopher deconstructs the singer’s roses.

He loves countries and leaves them: I am who I shall be and become. I shall construct myself and choose my exile. My exile is the background of the epic landscape. I defend the need for poets of glory and reminiscence; I defend trees that clothe the birds of home and exile, a moon still fit for a love song, an idea shattered by its proponents’ fragility and a country borne off by legends.

– Is there anything you could return to?

– What awaits me draws me on and urges me . . . I have no time to draw lines in the sand. But I can revisit the past like strangers listening to the pastoral poem in the gloom of the evening:

‘At the fountain, a young girl fills her jar with clouds’ tears. And she weeps and laughs at a bee that stung her heart when it was time to leave.

Is love pain in the water or malady in the mist . . .’

(And so on, till the song draws to a close.)

– So you could suffer from nostalgia?

– Nostalgia for times to come. More distant, more elevated, more distant still. My dream guides my steps and my vision cradles my dream, curled like a cat, on my lap. It is reality imagined, born of the will: we can change the chasm’s inevitability!

– And nostalgia for the past?

– That is only for the thinker who is anxious to understand the fascination a foreigner feels for the medium of absence. My own nostalgia is a struggle for a present that clings to the future.

– Did you penetrate the past the day you visited the house, your house, in Jerusalem’s Talibiya district?

– Like a child afraid of his father, I was ready to hide in my mother’s bed. I tried to relive my birth, to follow the trail of childhood across the roof of my old home, to run my fingers over the skin of absence, to smell the perfume of summer in the jasmine of the garden. But truth’s hyena drove me from a nostalgia that lurked, behind me, like a thief in the shadows.

– Were you afraid, and of what?

– I cannot meet loss head on. Like the beggar, I stayed at the door. Am I going to ask strangers who sleep in my bed for permission to spend five minutes in my own home? Will I bow respectfully to the people that occupy my dream of childhood? Will they ask: who is this stranger who lacks discretion? Will I be able just to speak of peace and war among victims and the victims of victims, avoiding superfluous words and asides? Will they tell me that two dreams cannot share a bed?

Neither he nor I could have done that.

But he is a reader who reflects on what poetry has to tell us in times of disaster.


and blood

and blood

in your homeland

In my name and in yours, in the almond blossom, in the banana skin, in the baby’s milk, in the light and in the shade, in the grain of wheat, in the salt jar. Consummate snipers reach their targets.




This land is smaller than the blood of its children, offerings placed on resurrection’s doorstep. Is this land blessed or baptised

In blood,


the blood

That neither prayers nor the sand can assuage? There is not enough justice in the pages of the Holy Book to give the martyrs the joy of walking freely across the clouds. Blood, by day. Blood, by night. Blood in the words!

He says: the poem could embrace loss, a shaft of light glinting from a guitar or a Christ mounted on a mare and blood- spattered with elegant metaphors. What is beauty if not the presence of truth in the form?

In a skyless world, the earth becomes a chasm. And the poem is one of consolation’s gifts, a quality of the winds, from both south and north. Do not describe your wounds as the camera sees them.

Cry out to make yourself heard and to know that you are still alive and living, that life on this earth is still possible. Invent hope for words. Create a cardinal point or a mirage that prolongs hope and sing, for beauty is freedom.

I say: life defined by its antithesis, death . . . is no life at all!

He replies: we shall live, even if life abandons us to our fate. Let us be the wordsmiths whose words make their readers eternal, as your extraordinary friend Ritsos might have said . . .

He says: If I die before you, I shall leave you the impossible task!

I ask: Is it a long way off?

He replies: A generation away.

I say: And if I die before you?

He replies: I shall console the mounts of Galilee and I shall write: ‘Beauty is merely the attainment of adequacy.’ All right! But don’t forget that if I die before you, I shall leave you the impossible task!

When I visited the new Sodom in the year 2002, he was opposing the war of Sodom against the people of Babylon and fighting cancer. The last epic hero, he defended Troy’s right to its share in the story.

Eagle on high,


Taking leave of the mountain tops,

For residing above Olympus

And the summits,

Brings ennui,


Farewell, poetry of pain!

Mahmoud Darwish. A river dies of thirst

Friday, January 29th, 2010


Vanweë Breyten Breytenbach se bekroonde bundel “oorblyfsel / voice over”, wat oor sy gestorwe vriend, die Palestynse digter  Mahmoud Darwish handel, is daar die afgelope maande heelwat oor Darwish se lewe en werk geskryf en besin. Daarom fokus ek vanoggend graag op die versameling joernaalstukke, A river dies of thirst, wat kort voor Darwish se dood in 2008 verskyn het.

Dié boek is in ‘n sakgrootte-formaat uitgegee en bevat gedigte, meditasies, fragmente en joernaal-inskrywings en as sulks is dit nie net ‘n uiters inspirerende boek nie, maar gee dit ook ‘n besonderse insig in die gedagtewêreld van ‘n werklik groot digter. Die toonaard van die inskrywings is eie aan Darwish: liries, filosofies, en deurspek met ironiese woordspel. Ter illustrasie plaas ek die titelgedig uit A rivier dies of thirst onder aan vanoggend se Nuuswekker.

Ten slotte verwys ek graag na een van die beste besprekings van Mahmoud Darwish se werk wat tans op die internet beskikbaar is, naamlik Eric Ormsby se oorsigbespreking wat op Book Forum te lese is.

Die besonderhede van die boek is soos volg:

TITEL:               A rivier dies of thirst

OUTEUR:          Mahmoud Darwish (uit Arabies vertaal deur Catherine Cobham)

UITGEWER:      Archipelago Books

ISBN:                978 009 819 557 1 1

PRYS:              R 219.50


Afgesien van Johann Lodewyk Marais se terugkeer na ‘n lang stilte, is daar geen nuwe plasings op die webblad nie; daarom kan julle smullees aan Johann se twéé stukke: die een oor sy Oos-Afrikaanse drome en die ander met ‘n aantal aanhalings oor die kus van Kenia.

Nou ja, toe. Die eerste maand van die nuwe jaar is so te sê daarmee heen. Hierdie naweek vind die beoordeling van die Blogfokus-briewe plaas en Sondagaand sal ons die wennner van die koopbewys bekend maak, asook die tema vir Februarie se blogfokus.

‘n Rustige naweek word almal toegewens. Nuuswekker hervat weer Maandag.

Mooi bly.



A river dies of thirst


A river was here

and it had two banks

and a heavenly mother who nursed it on drops from the clouds

A small river moving slowly

descending from the mountain peaks

visiting villages and tents like a charming lively guest

bringing oleander trees and date palms to the valley

and laughing to the nocturnal revellers on its banks:

‘Drink the milk of the clouds

and water the horses

and fly to Jerusalem and Damascus’

Sometimes it sang heroically

at others passionately

It was a river with two banks

and a heavenly mother who nursed it on drops from the clouds

But they kidnapped its mother

so it ran short of water

and died, slowly, of thirst.


© Mahmoud Darwish (vertaal deur Catherine Cobham)


Breyten se nuwe bundel is hier!

Thursday, August 13th, 2009
Breyten Breytenbach

Breyten Breytenbach

Slaan die tromme! Blaas die fluite! Laat wapper al die vlae, want Breyten se nuwe bundel is hier! Toevallig het Nuuswekker gister nog berig oor die Palestynse digter, Mahmoud Darwish, wat Sondag ‘n jaar gelede oorlede is, en toe arriveer Breyten Breytenbach se huldeblyk aan sy veel te vroeg gestorwe vriend enkele ure later in die winkel. En wat ‘n wonderlike leeservaring is dié gesprek in twaalf “bewegings” nie … Pure Breyten: vol deernis en gevul met ‘n kragtige kreatiwiteit wat so eie is aan hom; inderdaad ‘n reisjoernaal vanuit die middelwêreld. Boonop is hierdie ‘n pronkpublikasie, van die pragtige omslag tot by die “nota” aan Magmoed Darwiesj (soos Breyten sy naam heel korrek in Afrikaans skryf) waarmee die bundel sluit. Die verkoopprys van die bundel is R150. So, skaf dit aan en geniet die werk van een van ons meesters.

Terloops, ‘n mens kan nie verhelp om te wonder in watter boksie die kritici dié teks gaan plaas nie, want dit oorskrei bykans alle kategorieë. Waarskynlik som die digter dit self die beste op, soos byvoorbeeld met die volgende opmerking wat hy in sy brief aan Charl-Pierre Naudé gemaak het: “Die verhaal is ‘n liriese verliederliking met die metafoor as mond.” (Lees die hele brief hier indien jy dit nog nie raakgesien het nie.) 

Onthou ook om Breyten se essay oor sy vriend te lees wat hier  verskyn. 

As lusmaker plaas Nuuswekker (met vergunning deur sy uitgewer) die laaste strofes van die eerste “beweging” hieronder.

Lekker lees en mag hierdie dag ‘n plesierige een wees.

Mooi bly.



drie, vier, vyf dae en nagte

onsigbaar oordag, onsigbaar soos doodgaan

of die groei wat greep vir greep uitbloei in ‘n huisie woorde

se ontbinding in die donker

wanneer die tyd tydsaam ‘n maaier is

oor die landerye van die liggaam


totdat die los lykevlies vervaag

en skaduwees oor die naakte landskap

wegval soos vodde verrottende vlees

en die maan mandolien en maagdelik vol is


‘n skip van been

jou skedel, Magmoed

Breyten oor Magmoed Darwiesj

Wednesday, August 12th, 2009

Magmoed Darwiesj (Mahmoud Darwish)

Breyten Breytenbach


Mahmoud Darwish

Mahmoud Darwish

Twee aanhalings uit sy werk. (Dit kon ook tien of ʼn honderd gewees het want op elke bladsy van sy omvangryke oeuvre spring frases of beelde of gedagtes in jou oog.)

“Laat dit so wees! Laat ons môre hier met ons wees. Laat ons gister teenwoordig wees. Laat vandag aanwesig wees in hierdie dag se fees. Maak gereed vir die vlinder se viering, en laat die dromers van die een lug na die ander beweeg. Van een hemel na die ander gaan die dromers..”

“Vertel my hoe jy jou droom iewers geleef het en ek sal vir jou sê wie jy is.”


ʼn Sondag gelede was ek in Parys genooi vir middagete deur ʼn befaamde Libanese digter, Vénus Khoury-Ghata. Sy was ʼn jarelange vriendin van die ontslape Palestynse digter, Mahmoud Darwish. (Treffend tog, ontslaap. “Nooit meer slapen” was die titel van een van W.F. Hermans se romans.) Sy bied toe vir my ʼn klein deursigtige plastiekdosie aan met binne-in ʼn takkie salie en enkele bloedrooi blomblare, “van Mahmoud se graf in Ramallah.” Ek wou dit nie aanneem nie. Solank ons sy gedigte het…


Mense het van ver en met allerlei ompaaie gereis om by sy begrafnis te wees. Faroek Bey, sy Franse uitgewer, van Parys na Kaïro na Amman na Ramallah. Die Israeli’s het toestemming geweier dat hy in sy geboortedorp al-Birweh in Galilea begrawe word. (Daar bly byna niks oor van die dorpie nie.) Die Israeli’s sluit die Palestyne op soos in ʼn Bantoestan of ʼn ghetto, bou ʼn skandmuur om hulle, honger hulle uit, steel hulle geld en hulle olyfbome, en bestook die gevange burgerlikes in die Gazastrook met fosforbomme wat die vlees wegvreet tot op die been.   


In die Arabiers-sprekende wêreld het Mahmoud Darwish reeds ʼn mitiese status. By allerlei geleenthede, in kroeë saam met digters, om vreemde tafels met diplomate word daar oor hom gepraat. Elkeen onthou ʼn stukkie. Hy is hier, daar, oral. Ons het hom gesien. Ons ruik sy sigarette en terg hom oor sy blou oë wat so ‘doktoraal’ is agter die dik brilglase. Ongepubliseerde verse duik op in die maalstroom van daardie gedeelde modderige onderbewuste wat ons Internet noem. Niemand het nog ʼn geheeloorsig kon gee van sy werk nie want hy het sy boeke in verskeie lande die lig laat sien en soms in verskillende variante, en in tydskrifte of tot dusver onversameld in koerante. Daar word aangedik, bygelieg, besit van geneem. Iedereen het sy of haar verhaal, herinnering. Politici se kele swel vernaam van niksseggendhede. Dit maak nie saak nie. Solank ons sy gedigte het.


Hy word gebore in al-Birweh, 1942. 1948 is die Nakbah op hulle, die ‘Groot Vlug’, en saam met sy familie gee hy pad oor die grens na Libanon. ʼn Jaar later keer hulle terug. Te laat. Omdat hulle nie daar was toe die bevolkingsopname gemaak is nie kan sy familie nie die status van ‘Israeliese Arabiere’ opeis nie. Dis die begin van Mahmoud se vreemdelingskap. Hy word groot in Israel, sluit aan by die Kommuniste Party, beland van vroeg al in die moeilikheid, word onder huisarres geplaas, kry ʼn beurs om in Rusland te studeer, kan nie weer die land in nie en vestig hom in Kaïro. Later word dit Beiroet, na die Israeliese inval en beleg daar Tunis, toe Parys, later Amman, in die laaste jare by die agterdeur in Ramallah toe.


Struike, wolke, geure, voëls, skoelappers, die see, perde, maar ook kafees en strate en vriende en die beddens van minnaresse (waaronder, hartverskeurend vir hom, ʼn rooikop Israeliese vrou) en mettertyd al hoe dieper temas. Hulle sê hy is die stem van sy volk en sy stuk aarde met die koepel hemel daarbo. Selfs die lug bo Palestina is nie vry nie. Uiteindelik gaan dit hom al hoe meer pla. Hy is digter. Hy ken sy geskiedenis, tree in gesprek met sy luisterryke voorgangers deur al die subtiliteite van grensverskuiwende digvorms en temas, het sy affiniteite – Neruda, Ritsos, Lorca natuurlik. Dis waar, saam met Edward Saïd skryf hy die Palestynse ‘grondwet’ en die volkslied is in sy woorde. Maar na die Oslo Verdrag bedank hy uit die regerende instansie van die Palestynse Bevrydingsorganisasie (Fatah) en breek met sy ou vriend, Jasir Arafat. (Vir Darwish is die Oslo Verdrag ʼn klug, die weggee van ʼn droom.)


Twee, drie keer draai hy by die dood om. Hartprobleme. Na die een operasie is hy lank in ʼn koma; uit daardie doodwees skryf hy Mural. Die laaste keer vergeet hy om om te draai. Of was dit aspris? Die 9de Augustus 2008 in Houston, Texas van alle plekke.


Meer as 30 bundels poësie en prosa vertaal in 30 tale. Eleven planets; Bed of Strangers (of The Stranger’s Bed); Mural; State of Siege; Do Not Apologise for What You Have Done; Like Almond Flowers or Further; Why Did You Leave the Horse Alone… Onder die memoirs: Memory for Forgetfulness: August, Beirut, 1982; Journal of Everyday Sadness


Léés die mees onlangse vertaling van The Butterfly’s Burden deur Fady Joudah vertaal, gepubliseer deur Bloodaxe Books in Londen, 2007. In die voorwoord skryf Joudah: “No matter how the bifurcations of structure and syntax in translation may lead or mislead the reader, one thing is certain: Darwish does not disengage the act of writing from its subject matter. Instead, he performs a twinning. The beloved is not exclusively a woman or a land, self or other, but also poem and prose.”


Breyten Breytenbach, Augustus 2009

Vredesdigter in tye van konflik

Wednesday, August 12th, 2009


Mahmoud Darwish

Mahmoud Darwish

Waar die Oos-Europese digkunste sowat ‘n dekade gelede ongekende blootstelling en erkenning geniet het, het die fokus die afgelope jare nogals ietwat verskuif met veral die Midde-Oosterse digters wat al hoe meer aan internasionale aansien begin wen. Met digters soos Adonis, Mahmoud Darwish, Yehuda Amichai, Dan Pagis en Dahlia Ravikovitch in hul geledere is dit ook geen verrassing nie. Tragies genoeg was dit Sondag, 9 Augustus, presies ‘n jaar gelede dat een van hul mees begaafde digters, Mahmoud Darwish, weens komplikasies na hart-chirurgie in Houston, Texas, gesterf het. Hy was 67 jaar oud.

Gebore in Al Birweh, Palestina, moes Darwish se ouers met hul gesin na Labanon vlug tydens die vestiging van die Israelse staat in 1948. Na vele omswerwinge het hy in 1996 na Israel teruggekeer en hom by Ramallah aan die Wes-Oewer gevestig. Meer as dertig bundels het na sy debuut in 1964 verskyn en hy was ongetwyfeld die mees prominente Palestynse digter; danksy die groot getal bundels wat na Engels vertaal is. Hieronder tel die volgende: Unfortunately, It Was Paradise: Selected Poems (2003), Stage of Siege (2002), The Adam of Two Edens (2001), Mural (2000), Bed of the Stranger (1999), Psalms (1995), Why Did You Leave the Horse Alone? (1994), en The Music of Human Flesh (1980). Die mees onlangse, The Butterfly’s Burden (Copper Canyon Press, 2006) is skitterend vertaal deur Fady Joudah en is sonder twyfel ‘n móét vir enige ernstige poësie-liefhebber. (Terloops, dié lywige bloemlesing van 326 bladsye se verkoopprys is ‘n skaflike R250.00 …)

Oor Mahmoud Darwish se werk het Naomi Shihab Nye die volgende te sê gehad: “Mahmoud Darwish is the Essential Breath of the Palestinian people, the eloquent witness of exile and belonging, exquisitely tuned singer of images that invoke, link, and shine a brilliant light into the world’s whole heart. What he speaks has been embraced by readers around the world-his is an utterly necessary voice, unforgettable once discovered.” Amen. Ek kan ten volle hiermee akkoord gaan. So, snuffel gerus op die internet rond en lees meer oor dié formidabele digter wat ons ‘n jaar gelede ontval het. Gaan kyk veral na Darwish se buurman, Raja Shehade, se ontroerende stuk wat hier te lese is.

Meteens besef ek hoeveel van die vernaamste digters in wêreldpoësie hul werk juis te midde van ontheemding en verbanning gelewer het (of steeds lewer): Adonis, Bei Dao, César Vallejo, Pablo Neruda, Faiz Ahmed Faiz, Josph Brodsky, Osip Mandelstam en Paul Celan. Om natuurlik ook nie van Breyten Breytenbach te vergeet nie! Miskien het dit te make met iets wat Luigi Pirandello by monde van ‘n karakter in een van sy drama’s gesê het: “For never is man so introspective as when he suffers.”

Maar wag, nou begin ek babbel. Hieronder is ‘n vers van Mahmoud Darwish uit The Stranger’s bed (1998), soos vertaal deur Fady Joudah.

En bly tog uit die greep van die struikrowers vandag.

Mooi bly.





I touch you as a lonely violin touches the suburbs of the faraway place

patiently the river asks for its share of the drizzle

and, bit by bit, a tomorrow passing in poems approaches

so I carry faraway’s land and it carries me on travel’s road.


On a mare made of your virtues, my soul weaves

a natural sky made of your shadows, one chrysalis at a time.

I am the son of what you do in the earth, son of my wounds

that have lit up the pomegranate blossoms in your closed-up gardens.


Out of jasmine the night’s blood streams white. Your perfume,

my weakness and your secret, follows me like a snakebite. And your hair

is a tent of wind autumn in color. I walk along with speech

to the last of the words a bedouin told a pair of doves.


I palpate you as a violin palpates the silk of the faraway time

and around me and you sprouts the grass of an ancient place-anew.


© Mahmoud Darwish (vertaling: Fady Joudah)