Thursday, 13 May 2021

Antjie Krog: 'woordeloos staan ek'

 It is always interesting if a poet translates his/her own poem into English. Since before trying to translate I never look at existing translations of a poem (and this is in fact part of a longer poem, with nine sections), it often comes as quite a shock to see what the poet does, how close the words of the translation are to the original, or how free the poet feels to get an 'equivalent' text. 

This link has the full text in both Afrikaans and English. And here is my attempt at a translation:

i stand wordless

where are my words to come from?

for the doers

the shiverers

the scaredies

that cling shakingly-sick

to the soundless space of our inhospitable past


what is one to say?

what the hell is one to do

with the undraped skeletal frameworks, origins, shame and ash

the land of my conscience disappears fizzling

like a sheet in the dark


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