Posts Tagged ‘Michael Ondaatje’

Andries Bezuidenhout. Die storie – vertaling van ʼn gedig deur Michael Ondaatje

Thursday, December 8th, 2011

i

Vir veertig dae ontvang ʼn kind
drome uit vorige lewens.
Reise, kronkelpaaie,
ʼn honderd beskeie lesse
en dan word die verlede uitgevee.

Party skreeu met geboorte,
ander dwaal teruggetrokke
die verlede in – daardie winterbusrit,
skielike aankoms
by ʼn nuwe stad in die donker.
Ook afskeid van familiebande,
laat d
í
t wat verlore is en benodig word agter.
Die kind se gesig ʼn oppervlak
van vlietende wolke en emosies.

Laaste kans vir die self se helder geskiedenis.
Al ons moeders en grootouers hier,
ons gesloopte kindwese
in die verlede se bouwerk.

Grootse dagdroom van veertig dae
voor ons die kaarte begrawe.

ii

Daar kom ʼn oorlog, sê die koning vir sy swanger vrou.
In die doodsnikke sal sewe van ons
die rivier ooste toe oorsteek
en onsself in landerye vermom.
Ons sal mark toe gaan
en toumakers bevriend. Onthou dit.

Sy knik en streel die baba in haar buik.

Na ʼn maand sal ons weer
daardie koning se sale binnegaan.
Dowwe lig uit klein, ho
ë
vensters.
Ons het sonder wapens gekom,
net mandjies vol tou.
Vir jare het ons geoefen,
om suutjies te beweeg, onsigbaar,
nie ʼn lit te laat kraak nie,
asem te laat blaas nie,
selfs in verligte kamers,
sodat ons in hierdie gebou,
waar bewakers in skemerlig wag, kan verdwyn.

Op ʼn sekere nag
moet die sewe by ʼn horisonstale deur ingaan.
Onthou dit, koponderstebo,
soos met geboorte.

Dan (sê hy vir sy vrou)
is daar ʼn gang van druppende water,
luidrugtige reën, ʼn gevoel
van gediertes wat om jou voete krioel.
Ons gaan n
ó
g donkerder sale binne,
bibbernat tussen vyandige krygers.
Ons doof die laaste lig uit om hulle te kan uitoorlê.

Na die skermutseling volg ons ʼn ander pad
en vermy alle deure noorde toe…

 (Die koning kyk af
en sien sy vrou slaap
in die middel van die avontuur.

Hy buig neer en soen die kind
in sy vrou se lyf deur haar vel.
Albei droom. Hy l
ê
daar,
kyk na haar gesig soos sy inasem.
Hy trek ʼn lok oor haar oog terug
en byt dit af. Vleg dit
in sy eie hare in, raak dan langs hulle aan die slaap.)

iii

Met die geskiedenis se geswenk
kan ek my jou toekoms nie verbeel nie.
Sou dit wou droom, jou
in jou tienerjare sien, soos ek my seun kon sien,
jou nukke wat reeds diepsinnig
teen die stad se vaart skaaf.
Oor ʼn toekoms raai ek nie meer nie.
Weet nie hoe ons eindig nie,
of waar nie.

Alhoewel ek, vir jou, ʼn storie oor kaarte ken.

iv

Na die dood van sy vader
lei die prins sy krygers
na ʼn ander land toe.
Vier mans en drie vroue.
Vermom reis hulle
deur plase, lande met rape.
Hulle is ingeto
ë
en skaam
op ʼn vreemde, onbevange manier.

In veselmarkte
maak hulle vriende.
Hulle is dansers
wat ligweg tuimel as hulle beweeg,
lang hare wild in die lug.
Hul skaamte glip weg.

Betower met die begeerte in hulle.
Hulle word aan hul danse geken.

Een aand verlaat hulle hul beddens.
Vier mans, drie vroue.
Hulle steek braak velde oor, waar niks groei nie
en swem deur kil riviere
die stad in.

Suutjies, onsigbaar tussen wagte
gaan hulle die horisontale deur binne
onderstebo sodat giflemme
nie aan hul raak nie. Dan
deur die reëntonnels.

Dis ʼn ou storie – een van hulle
onthou die pad na binne.
Hulle gaan die laaste skemer kamer binne
en blaas die lamp uit. Hulle beweeg
in die duisternis soos dansers
in die middel van ʼn doolhof,
gewaar die vyand voor hulle
met die donker kleed van hul tog.

Daar is geen manier om jouself na oorwinnings te gedra nie.

*

En wat nou moet gebeur is vergete.

Daar staan die sewe.
Een van hulle, die een wat daardie baba was,
kan nie die res van die storie onthou nie
– die storie wat sy vader geken het, onvoltooi
daardie nag, sy ma aan die slaap.

Ons onthou dit as ʼn teer storie,
alhoewel hulle miskien vergaan.
Die pa se lenige arm oor
die kind se vorm, die proe
van die haarlok in sy mond…

Die sewe omhels mekaar in die vernielde kamer
waar hulle sal sterf sonder
om van ontsnapping te kan droom.
Ons weet nie wat gebeur het nie.
Vanuit ho
ë
vensters is die toue
nie lank genoeg om tot by die grond te kom nie.
Hulle vat die vyand se messe
en sny hulle lang hare en vleg dit
aan een tou vas en hulle klim af
en hoop dis lank genoeg
tot in die duister nag.

Oorspronklike gedig:
“The Story”, deur Michael Ondaatje, Handwriting (2011, Cape Poetry), bls. 55-60.

Pieter Odendaal. Stof en ander onsigbare wêrelde

Sunday, July 31st, 2011

Die volgende tekste verteenwoordig ’n soort steekproef van wat ek die afgelope tyd gelees het. Hulle bevolk my drome en maak my sterk – hulle laat my glo dat dit tog die moeite werd is om te skryf. Terwyl ek besig was om die uittreksels oor te tik, besef ek toe skielik dat ek klaarblyklik ‘n obsessie met stof en ander klein dinge ontwikkel het. Snaakse goed gebeur as jy die natuurwetenskappe en poësie met mekaar begin meng.

Uittreksel uit The English Patient (1992) deur Michael Ondaatje

 

There is a whirlwind in Southern Morocco, the aajej, against which the fellahin defend themselves with knives. There is the africo, which has at times reached into the city of Rome. The alm, a fall wind out of Yugoslavia. The arifi […] which scorches with numerous tongues. These are permanent winds that live in the present tense.

There are other, less constant winds that change direction, that can knock down horse and rider and realign themselves anticlockwise. The bist roz leaps into Afghanistan for 170 days – burying villages. There is the hot, dry ghibli from Tunis, which rolls and rolls and produces a nervous condition. The haboob – a Sudan dust storm that dresses in bright yellow walls a thousand metres high and is followed by rain. The harmattan, which blows and eventually drowns itself into the Atlantic. Imbat, a sea breeze in North Africa. Some winds that just sigh towards the sky. Night dust storms that come with the cold. The khamsin, a dust in Egypt from March to May, named after the Arabic word for “fifty”, blooming for fifty days – the ninth plague of Egypt. The datoo out of Gibraltar, which carries fragrance.

There is also the —, the secret wind of the dessert, whose name was erased by a king after his son died within it. And the nafhat – a blast out of Arabia. […]

Other, private winds.

Travelling along the ground like a flood. Blasting off paint, throwing down telephone poles, transporting stones and statue heads. The harmattan blows across the Sahara filled with red dust, dust as fire, as flour, entering and coagulating in the locks of rifles. Mariners called this red wind the “sea of darkness.” Red sand fogs out of the Sahara were deposited as far north as Cornwall and Devon, producing showers of mud so great this was also mistaken for blood. “Blood rains were widely reported in Portugal and Spain in 1901.”

There are always millions of tons of dust in the air, just as there are millions of cubes of air in the earth and more living flesh in the soil (worms, beetles, underground creatures) than there is grazing and existing on it. Herodotus records the death of various armies engulfed in the simoom who were never seen again. […]

Dust storms in three shapes. The whirl. The column. The sheet. In the first the horizon is lost. In the second you are surrounded by waltzing Ginns. The third, the sheet, is copper-tinted. Nature seems to be on fire.

 

“Carbon” uit The periodic table deur Primo Levi

 

Our character lies for hundreds of millions of years, bound to its three atoms of oxygen and one of calcium, in the form of limestone: it already has a very long cosmic history behind it, but we shall ignore it. […] Its existence, whose monotony cannot be thought of without horror, is a pitiless alternation of hots and colds, that is, of oscillations […] a trifle more restricted and a trifle more ample: an imprisonment, for this potentially living personage, worthy of the Catholic Hell. To it, until the present moment, the present tense is suited, which is that of description, rather than of narration – it is congealed in an eternal present, barely scratched by the moderate quivers of thermal agitation.

But, precisely for the good fortune of the narrator, whose story could otherwise have come to an end, the limestone rock ledge of which the atom forms a part lies on the surface. It lies within reach of man and his pickax (all honor to the pickax and its modern equivalents; they are still the most important intermediaries in the millennial dialogue between the elements and man): at any moment, which I, the narrator, decide out of pure caprice to be the year 1840 – a blow of the pickax detached it and sent it on its way to the lime kiln, plunging it into the world of things that change. It was roasted until it separated from the calcium […]. Still firmly clinging to two of its three former oxygen companions, it issued from the chimney and took the path of the air. Its story, which once was immobile, now turned tumultuous.

It was caught by the wind, flung down on the earth, lifted ten kilometers high. It was breathed in by a falcon, descending into its precipitous lungs, but did not penetrate its rich blood and was expelled. It dissolved three times in the water of the sea, once in the water of a cascading torrent, and again was expelled. It traveled with the wind for eight years: now high, now low, on the sea and among the clouds, over forests, deserts, and limitless expanses of ice; then it stumbled into capture and organic adventure.

[…]

The atom we are speaking of, accompanied by its two satellites which maintained it in a gaseous state, was borne by the wind along a row of vines in the year 1848. It had the good fortune to brush against a leaf, penetrate it, and be nailed there by a ray of the sun. If my language here becomes imprecise and allusive, it is not only because of my ignorance: this decisive event, this instantaneous work a tre – of the carbon dioxide, the light, and the vegetal greenery – has not yet been described in definitive terms, and perhaps it will not be for a long time to come, so different is it from that other ‘organic’ chemistry which is the cumbersome, slow, and ponderous work of man: and yet this refined, minute, and quick-witted chemistry was ‘invented’ two or three billion years ago by our silent sisters, the plants, which do not experiment and do not discuss, and whose temperature is identical to that of the environment in which they live.

 

Follower

My father worked with a horse-plough,
His shoulders globed like a full sail strung
Between the shafts and the furrow,
The horses strained at his clicking tongue.

An expert. He would set the wing
And fit the bright steel-pointed sock.
The sod rolled over without breaking.
At the heading, with a single pluck

Of reins, the sweating team turned round
And back into the land. His eye
Narrowed and angled at the ground,
Mapping the furrow exactly.

I stumbled in his hob-nailed wake,
fell sometimes on the polished sod;
Sometimes he rode me on his back
Dipping and rising to his plod.

I wanted to grow up and plough,
To close one eye, stiffen my arm.
All I ever did was follow
In his broad shadow round the farm.

I was a nuisance, tripping, falling,
Yapping always. But today
It is my father who keeps stumbling
Behind me, and will not go away.

© Seamus Heaney, 1966. Death of a Naturalist.

 

Uittreksel uit Wetware: A computer in every living cell (2009) deur Dennis Bray

 

At the beginning of the twentieth century, biologists knew that single-celled organisms are capable of complicated sequences of actions in response to a wide variety of stimuli. All free-living cells, including bacteria, amoebae, and ciliates, can detect chemicals in their surrounding media. They achieve this sense of taste and smell, as we do with our sense of smell, because molecules in the outside wourld stick specifically to their surfaces. Signals generated by proteins in the membrane then tell the sel about possible sources of food and potentially damaging environments. Amoebae crawl over surfaces and steer past obstacles they cannot surmount. […] An amoeba can immediately tell an Euglena cyst from a grain of sand of the same size and will devour the former while rejecting the latter. […] In the world of the very smhe beating of a cilium can send vibrations over distances of hundreds of sel diameters. Cells could use the magnitude and rhythms of these waterborne vibrations to gain a sense of what is in their neighbourhood, rather like a primitive vorm of hearing. Almost all single-celled organisms respond to light. Ciliates such as paramecia move to weak light but are repelled by strong light. The single-celled Chlamydomonas has a so-called eyespot containing pigment molecules that enable it to detect the direction of incoming light. There is even a ciliate called Erythropsidium that spends its life attached to the bottom of the pond, watching the world through a large eye equipped with a lens. Strange indeed, since in most eyes a lens serves to focus images onto a retina, an outpocketing of the brain. But there is no retina here, no brain.

 

25

Wat ek met berge gemeen het – dis nou
plattes met handlangers of hooggebore
enkelinge – is bra mind, toegegee.
Maar ek deel met hulle ’n legio
spelonke wat ligskrefies inlaat;
maar innooi so nimmer as te nooit.

Nee, ek is ’n spelonk hoog aan ’n hang
bo die see, met ’n gedreun in my
en ’n oop verweerde aangesig en ’n skerp
reuk van vlermuis- en dassiemis en –pis
en ’n bek vol lig en lief en waan
en ek bulder binnensmonds en ek treur.

Maar ek sou wou wees: die een
tussen baie met die groot druipsteensale
en die wonderskone wete en ek sou wag.
En ek sou die steenbokkie, die vlugtende,
wat in my verdwaal, langsaam laat vrek
en sy skelet toedrup tot fantasie.

Grot is ek: bewaarder van geslagte
se skreeuende gebeentes en hopies klip.
Grot ek: die berghaan se klankversterker.
Die berghaan draal. Hy sleep skalks
sy klein stompstertskadu deur my,
en met die skaduprent op my tong

stamel ek my ganse leegheid.

© Wilma Stockenström, 1984. Monsterverse.

Andries Bezuidenhout. Ons ouers se melankolie

Monday, July 27th, 2009

Dis so koud in die woonstel dat ek in die bed sit en lees.

Ek lees verlede week weer Harry Kalmer se X-Ray Visagie en die vingers van God, asook Die man met die dertien kinders. Ek dink laasgenoemde bly Harry se beste boek. Dis ʼn storie met soveel menslikheid en diepte. Dit boul my van voor af om. Ek hou ook van die verwysings na die gedigte van Philip Larkin (“They fuck you up, your mum and dad./ They may not mean to, but they do./ They fill you with the faults they had/ And add some extra, just for you.”) en Michael Ondaatje. Ek lees nou al vir maande lank aan die gedigte in The Cinnamon Peeler.

Al verskil ek en Hennie van Coller oor die relatiewe gewig wat Karel Schoeman se romans in die letterkunde dra (sien eerskomende Sondag se Boeke-Rapport), weet ek darem dat ons albei Harry Kalmer se werk waardeer. (Ek weet nie wat my besiel het om my vingers aan die sleutelbord te waag oor sulke sake nie, maar nou ja. Die bylae vir volgende week is seker al uitgelê en wag om gedruk te word. Ek is voortvarend en die koeël is deur die pers.)

X-Ray waardeer ek met hierdie keer se lees op ʼn ander manier. Ek ken die omgewing waar die boek afspeel soveel beter as toe ek dit destyds gelees het – Burgersdorp en dele van Johannesburg. En dan is daar Baader-Meinhof, wat so ʼn belangrike verwysingspunt vir die storie is.

Hoekom is daar juis nou weer ʼn herondersoek na die rol van Andreas Baader en Ulrike Meinhof en die geslag na hulle? Ek dink aan die onlangse film daaroor. Dalk omdat baie van die repertoires van terreur tóé uitgevind is. Dalk omdat regerings steeds nie (wil) verstaan hoekom mense hul tot geweld wend nie.

Ek dink weer aan die punkband Koos se musiek uit die tyd wat die boek afspeel. En aan Marcel van Heerden se liriek “Die Suid-Afrikaanse herfs”, met sy verwysings na die Baader-Meinhof-hofsaak. Dis die 1980s. In Yeoville is daar ʼn hele scene met rebelse Afrikaners. Terwyl ek X-Ray lees, draai die liriek deur my kop: “Wie is hierdie kinders met die toekoms in hulle oë… Wat hul ouers se melankolie wil verlig in die Suid-Afrikaanse herfs…”

Andries Bezuidenhout. Verdeelde huis – vertaling

Friday, July 10th, 2009

Ek vra nederig om verskoning vir my afwesigheid. Ek was in Potchefstroom om ʼn werkswinkel by te woon en is toe deur ʼn griepvirus tot binne in ʼn dosis antibiotika platgeduik.

Hier’s ʼn vertaling van Michael Ondaatje se “A House Divided”.

VERDEELDE HUIS
(ʼn Vertaling van Michael Ondaatje se “A House Divided”)

Hierdie middernag haal asem
stu met onsinnige ritme,
maar op geen metronoom oudmodies nie.
Jou lyf verken,
probeer om my uit te oorlê,
begerig vir ʼn ekstra brokkie bed;
ek buig deur eienaardige hoeke.

Subtiel word die nagtelike oorlog gevoer:
ek is seker jy word swanger
bloot vir ekstra grond
– nou teen skoppe immuun.

Daar’s nog een binne jou,
een wat klap soos ʼn vis,
swaai, reeds baklei
vir sy stukkie bed.

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