Monday, 29 October 2012



O koud is die windjie
            en skraal.
En blink in die dof-lig
            en kaal,
so wyd as die Heer se genade,
lê die velde in sterlig en skade.
            En hoog in die rande,
            versprei in die brande,
is die grassaad aan roere
            soos winkende hande.

O treurig die wysie
            op die ooswind se maat,
soos die lied van ’n meisie
in haar liefde verlaat.
In elk grashalm se vou
blink ’n druppel van dou,
en vinnig verbleik dit
            tot ryp in die kou!


So cold now the wind is
            and spare.
And bleak in the dim light
            and bare,
as wide as God’s mercy is boundless,
the scorched veldt lies starlit and soundless.
            And on the high lands
            through burnt soil lone strands
of seed-grass are stirring
            like beckoning hands.

So sad now the song is
            on the east wind full-borne,
like a girl’s song of longing
when love is forlorn.
In the fold of each blade
a clear dewdrop is made
that swiftly the cold turns
            to rime as it fades!


John Irons said...

Hi John
The highveld burns each winter and there is miles of black crisp grass which each year renews itself.
Any moisture immediatly starts the process and i can almost see the movement of the sprouting grass.

Alastair Barnes sent me this comment from South Africa. He also encouraged me to make a revised version of my translation. Thank you, Alastair!

John Irons said...

No, I hadn't. Thank you very much for drawing my attention to it!!topic/soc.culture.south-africa.afrikaans/9bCPJd4p0N0

John Irons said...

For the actual poem, go to:

interesting to compare translations! i went very much for the pulse, the flow of the line. i find the rhymes a bit odd in his first stanza, the endings 'God' and 'shade' jerk me to a halt compared to marais.