Posts Tagged ‘Seamus Heaney’

Nini Bennett. Presidente en hulle poësie

Friday, February 19th, 2021

 

 

Die jongste wêreldnuus aan die poësiefront is die 22-jarige Amanda Gorman se voordrag van haar gedig, “The hill we climb”, tydens die presidensiële inhuldiging van Joe Biden, die 46 ste president van die VSA op 20 Januarie 2021. Gorman het in haar hoedanigheid as poet laureate opgetree. Dié begaafde jong digter, ’n inwoner van Los Angeles, was in 2017 die nasionale jeug-poet laureate. Sy is tans ’n sosiologie-student aan die Harvard-universiteit. Gorman is tot op hede die jongste digter wie dié eer te beurt geval het. Demokrate soos John F. Kennedy, Bill Clinton en Barack Obama het ook poet laureates tydens hulle inhuldigingsplegtighede gehad. Gorman sluit, met haar 5-minute lange gedig, aan by haar ikoniese voorgangers soos Robert Frost, Maya Angelou en Elizabeth Alexander. Maar net twee weke voor hierdie historiese dag het gewelddadige Trump-ondersteuners die Capitol in Washington DC bestorm met vlae, pypbomme en galgtoue. In Gorman se gedig doen sy ’n oproep tot nasionale eenheid, besinning en verandering – met die troos dat Amerika se demokrasie wel seergekry het en tydelik “vertraag” is, maar steeds ’n baken van hoop is wat nooit sal verdwyn nie. Die waarderende tweets het onmiddellik ingestroom, onder meer van Oprah Winfrey, Michelle Obama, Hillary Clinton en die aktivis en politikus, Stacey Abrahams. Gorman se debuut, The one for whom food is not enough het in 2015  verskyn.

Tyd vlieg inderdaad, en ’n mens dink onwillekeurig aan die dag toe Donald Trump ingesweer is as president, op 20 Januarie 2017. Met dié verskil: Trump het nie ’n poet laureate gehuur nie. Nee, hierdie president het dae nadat hy sy amp aanvaar het, ’n liriek, “The snake”, tydens politieke byeenkomste voorgelees – dieselfde liriek wat hy (heel dreigend) tydens verkiesingsveldtogte gelees het. In sy nuuswekker vra Louis Esterhuizen, na analogie van ’n berig in The Atlantic, tereg waar die digters tydens Trump se inhuldigingseremonie was – en of die tradisie van poet laureates dan net ’n gebruik is wat Demokrate aanhang?  https://versindaba.co.za/tag/presidensiele-inhuldiging/?fbclid=IwAR0_O_VNJcDeh58L4I4m6PpOG3BB4Su2V7fa9rzff63US5eK0OiT8SkCAEo

Wys Trump sy misnoeë met bestaande en gerespekteerde protokol só? Wel, dít is dalk lig gestel. Trump het net een (gunsteling) “gedig”, wat inderwaarheid ’n liriek is, genaamd “The snake”, soos reeds genoem. En die voormalige prez sélf het dit tot vervelens toe voorgelees. Die verdraaide vertolking van die liriek was ’n waarskuwing aan die burgery oor die gevare verbonde aan onwettige immigrante, maar die teks kan ook as metafoor van Trump se presidensie gelees word. Dit handel in kort oor ’n vrou wat ’n slang, wat buite verkluim, in haar huis inneem en versorg. Die slang pik dan sy weldoener met ’n dodelike gif. Die liriek is oorspronklik in 1968 deur Al Wilson geskryf, en volgens die burgerregte-aktivis, Oscar Brown dui die lied op die viering van die swart kultuur en gepaardgaande die verwerping van rassisme. Brown se (oorlewende) kinders het Trump gewaarsku om die liriek nie te te demoniseer nie, waarop Trump onderneem het om die voordrag daarvan te staak – maar hy het steeds voortgegaan.

 

 

Geen poet laureate vir Donald Trump nie: hy het gesorg dat hy die kollig opeis, hý alleen, op verskeie geleenthede. O, en het hy dit nie geniet om sy ‘bangmaakgedig’ te lees nie!  Eers sal hy sy leesbril opsit, ernstig, outoritêr, en met groot fanfare begin lees terwyl hy huiwer voor die argaïese en fleurige taalgebruik in die liriek-vers. Mens kan sien hoe hy die naderende klimaks van die slangfabel geniet…met ’n donker, dramatiese stem stuur hy af op die selfverduidelikende kadens, en die gelaaide stilte ná die voorlesing laat die volle implikasie van die verradelike slang vir eers by sy luisteraars insink.

 

The snake

 

On her way to work one morning

Down the path alongside the lake

A tender-hearted woman saw a poor half-frozen snake

His pretty colored skin had been all frosted with the dew

“Oh well,” she cried, “I’ll take you in and I’ll take care of you”

“Take me in oh tender woman

Take me in, for heaven’s sake

Take me in oh tender woman,” sighed the snake

 

She wrapped him up all cozy in a curvature of silk

And then laid him by the fireside with some honey and some milk

Now she hurried home from work that night as soon as she arrived

She found that pretty snake she’d taken in had been revived

“Take me in, oh tender woman

Take me in, for heaven’s sake

Take me in oh tender woman,” sighed the snake

 

Now she clutched him to her bosom, “You’re so beautiful,” she cried

“But if I hadn’t brought you in by now you might have died”

Now she stroked his pretty skin and then she kissed and held him tight

But instead of saying thanks, that snake gave her a vicious bite

“Take me in, oh tender woman

Take me in, for heaven’s sake

Take me in oh tender woman,” sighed the snake

 

“I saved you,” cried that woman

“And you’ve bit me even, why?

You know your bite is poisonous and now I’m going to die”

“Oh shut up, silly woman,” said the reptile with a grin

“You knew damn well I was a snake before you took me in

”Take me in, oh tender woman

Take me in, for heaven’s sake

Take me in oh tender woman,“ sighed the snake

 

Joe Biden se gunsteling digters is van Ierse afkoms, waarskynlik omdat die president self van Ierse herkoms is. Hy het deur die jare by herhaling die Nobelpryswenner, Seamus Heaney, aangehaal, wat terloops ook Bill Clinton se gunsteling digter is. Heaney se werk leen hom wonderlik tot politieke toesprake, het Biden per geleentheid gesê.

 

History says

Don’t hope on this side of the grave

But then, once in a lifetime

The longed-for tidal wave

Of justice can rise up

And hope and history rhyme.

 

(Soos aangehaal uit Heaney se 1991-drama, The cure at Troy.)

 

Maar dit was egter William Butler Yeats se gedigte wat die jong Biden voor die spieël geresiteer het om van sy hakkelprobleem ontslae te raak – ’n raakpunt wat Amanda Gorman met Biden deel, want as kind het sy ook gesukkel met ’n spraakprobleem. As jy leer om bewus te raak van die uitspraak van woorde, raak jy ingestel op die fynere nuanses van klank; dit het my voorberei vir my rol as storieverteller en voordragkunstenaar, het die jong digter bevestig. Gorman se styl herinner aan die performance poetry ter plaatse, en na my mening kan die digter en die gedig tydens die presidensiële inhuldiging nie van mekaar geskei word nie. Die gedig kan ook as ’n soort kanonisering van performance poetry gesien word. Gorman se manier van lees/voordra is besonder ekspressief. Hier volg die volledige gedig:

 

The hill we climb

 

When day comes we ask ourselves,

where can we find light in this never-ending shade?

The loss we carry,

a sea we must wade

We’ve braved the belly of the beast

We’ve learned that quiet isn’t always peace

And the norms and notions

of what just is

Isn’t always just-ice

And yet the dawn is ours

before we knew it

Somehow we do it

Somehow we’ve weathered and witnessed

a nation that isn’t broken

but simply unfinished

We the successors of a country and a time

Where a skinny Black girl

descended from slaves and raised by a single mother

can dream of becoming president

only to find herself reciting for one

And yes we are far from polished

far from pristine

but that doesn’t mean we are

striving to form a union that is perfect

We are striving to forge a union with purpose

To compose a country committed to all cultures, colors, characters and

conditions of man

And so we lift our gazes not to what stands between us

but what stands before us

We close the divide because we know, to put our future first,

we must first put our differences aside

We lay down our arms

so we can reach out our arms

to one another

We seek harm to none and harmony for all

Let the globe, if nothing else, say this is true:

That even as we grieved, we grew

That even as we hurt, we hoped

That even as we tired, we tried

That we’ll forever be tied together, victorious

Not because we will never again know defeat

but because we will never again sow division

Scripture tells us to envision

that everyone shall sit under their own vine and fig tree

And no one shall make them afraid

If we’re to live up to our own time

Then victory won’t lie in the blade

But in all the bridges we’ve made

That is the promise to glade

The hill we climb

If only we dare

It’s because being American is more than a pride we inherit,

it’s the past we step into

and how we repair it

We’ve seen a force that would shatter our nation

rather than share it

Would destroy our country if it meant delaying democracy

And this effort very nearly succeeded

But while democracy can be periodically delayed

it can never be permanently defeated

In this truth

in this faith we trust

For while we have our eyes on the future

history has its eyes on us

This is the era of just redemption

We feared at its inception

We did not feel prepared to be the heirs

of such a terrifying hour

but within it we found the power

to author a new chapter

To offer hope and laughter to ourselves

So while once we asked,

how could we possibly prevail over catastrophe?

Now we assert

How could catastrophe possibly prevail over us?

We will not march back to what was

but move to what shall be

A country that is bruised but whole,

benevolent but bold,

fierce and free

We will not be turned around

or interrupted by intimidation

because we know our inaction and inertia

will be the inheritance of the next generation

Our blunders become their burdens

But one thing is certain:

If we merge mercy with might,

and might with right,

then love becomes our legacy

and change our children’s birthright

So let us leave behind a country

better than the one we were left with

Every breath from my bronze-pounded chest,

we will raise this wounded world into a wondrous one

We will rise from the gold-limbed hills of the west,

we will rise from the windswept northeast

where our forefathers first realized revolution

We will rise from the lake-rimmed cities of the midwestern states,

we will rise from the sunbaked south

We will rebuild, reconcile and recover

and every known nook of our nation and

every corner called our country,

our people diverse and beautiful will emerge,

battered and beautiful

When day comes we step out of the shade,

aflame and unafraid

The new dawn blooms as we free it

For there is always light,

if only we’re brave enough to see it

If only we’re brave enough to be it

 

Die presidensiële inhuldiging met die versoenende tema “America united” was ’n rasende sukses. Die navrae het dadelik ingestroom: wanneer, en waar is Gorman se werk te koop? Binne dae het Gorman se  prenteboek, The change we sing asook die bundel, The hill we climb, wat September vanjaar verwag word, na die boonste twee plekke op Amazon.com opgeskuif. En ja: Die jong digter is ambisieus – sy het in ’n onderhoud met die New York Times genoem dat sy in 2036 gaan terug wees as presidensiële kandidaat.

 

Verwysings

https://www.townandcountrymag.com/society/politics/a35253095/joe-biden-seamus-heaney-irish-poet/?fbclid=IwAR02Qtc2bLSNXopd5Cal1jegCEpiiCZhlkjat8xpHM5ZgEgrgn2VIhPIFsY

https://www.irishpost.com/news/donald-trump-recites-controversial-poem-the-snake-during-rally-196725?fbclid=IwAR2zGhmKCdFxHNqJB0wpmek0ANIf4K9ANH5-itaGTAFErgplt89ce8AJ9u8

https://edition.cnn.com/2021/01/20/politics/amanda-gorman-inaugural-poem-transcript/index.html?fbclid=IwAR3UaLUUQ6zObm8GAL44T1j2QjkVXFOyH0HuEHHPrMdistTNyCjy4dQH5_w

 

Desmond Painter. Oor vaders en digters, geboorte en dood

Saturday, August 31st, 2013

Seamus Heaney

My en Claire se dogtertjie, Hania, is gisteroggend gebore, dus was my gedagtes by nuwe lewe eerder as die dood. Dit was nogtans hartseer om te lees dat Seamus Heaney op dieselfde pragtige oggend oorlede is.

Tydens my jare by die Rhodes Universiteit, iewers in die vroeë 2000s, het Heaney ʼn eredoktorsgraad daar ontvang. Hy het ʼn mooi openbare lesing oor ‘The Guttural Muse’ gelewer en sy gedigte aangrypend by kerslig voorgelees in die katedraal.

Wat my egter sal bybly is ʼn kort ontmoeting met Heaney, bemiddel deur plaaslike digter en Engelsdosent, Dan Wylie. Ek kan nie veel van die gesprek onthou nie, behalwe dat Heaney vriendelik en toeganklik was, en dat hy, toe hy verneem dat ek en my vriendin Afrikaans is, gesê het: ‘Ah, your own guttaral muse…’

Wanneer Hania veilig tuis is sal ek vir haar hierdie gedig van Heaney lees:

*

Follower – Seamus Heaney

My father worked with a horse-plough,
His shoulders globed like a full sail strung
Between the shafts and the furrow.
The horse 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 headrig, 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.

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.

Desmond Painter. Ek, Danie Marais en Seamus Heaney

Thursday, January 27th, 2011
Seamus Heaney

Seamus Heaney

Ek en Danie Marais het gisteraand in die Sasol Kunsmuseum in Stellenbosch so ‘n bietjie gesels oor wat die digkuns en die sielkunde vir mekaar te sê het (of nie te sê het nie, of nie vir mekaar behoort te sê nie) oor die tema ouers en kinders. Danie het gedigte oor pa’s, ma’s en kinders voorgelees — van sy eie gedigte, maar ook klassieke uit die wêreldliteratuur — en ek het natuurlik woorde soos ‘Freud’, ‘Lacan’ en ‘Oedipus’ heel onverantwoordelik rondgegooi…

Soos dit hoort sal die aand onthou word vir die gedigte, nie vir die sielkunde nie. Onder die gedigte wat voorgelees is tel absolute meesterstukke, soos die vers van Seamus Heaney hier onder. Terloops, ek het Heaney meegemaak (en kortliks ontmoet!) toe hy ‘n paar jaar gelede ‘n eredoktorsgraad van Rhodes Universiteit ontvang het. Hy het ‘n openbare lesing oor die ‘gutteral tongue’ gelewer en in Grahamstad se katedraal ‘by candlelight’ voorgelees uit sy eie werk — regtig ‘n onthoubare geleentheid. Na die tyd by ‘n kaas-en-wyn het Heaney soos die Ierse boy next door gemaklik en belangstellend met die gaste gemingle. Laat ek dit so stel, ek het al Afrikaanse digters met ‘n groter sin van selfbelangrikheid as Heaney ontmoet — nee man, nie jy nie! 

Follower – Seamus Heaney

 

My father worked with a horse-plough,

His shoulders globed like a full sail strung

Between the shafts and the furrow.

The horse 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 headrig, 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.