Literary Translation

Chantelle Gray van Heerden vertaal Margaret Atwood

 
Variasie op die woord slaap

Ek sou jou graag wou aanskou terwyl jy slaap,
wat dalk nie sal gebeur nie.
Ek sou jou graag wou aanskou,
slapend. Ek sou graag saam met jou
wil slaap, om jou slaap te deurdring
terwyl die gladde, donker brander
daarvan oor my kop gly

en saam met jou wou loop deur daardie helder
weifelagtige woud van blougroen blare,
waterige son & drie mane
tot by the grot waarin jy moet afklim,
na jou allerergste angs

ek sou graag vir jou wou gee die silwer
takkie, die klein wit blommetjie, die enkele
woord wat jou teen die verdriet
in die hart van jou droom,
teen die verdriet in die hart,
sou kon beskerm ek sou jou graag wou volg
op die lang trapleer-pad
& myself
die boot wou maak wat jou terug sal roei
sorgsaam, ’n vlam
in twee bakhande
na waar jou liggaam
langs my lê, en wanneer jy dit binnegaan
so eenvoudig soos asemhaal

Sou ek graag die lug wou wees
wat jou vir net ’n oomblik
inboesem. Ek sou so onmerkbaar wou wees
& so nodig.

© Chantelle Gray van Heerden

Variasies op die woord love

Hierdie woord is een wat ons gebruik om
gate mee toe te stop. Dis die regte grootte vir
daardie warm
leemtes in taal, vir daardie rooi hart-
vormige leegtes op bladsye wat niks
soos regte harte lyk nie. Voeg kant by
en jy kan dit
verkoop. Ons plaas dit ook in daardie een oop
spasie op die gedrukte vorm wat sonder
enige instruksies kom. Daar is hele
tydskifte wat skaars meer in
as die woord liefde bevat, jy kan
dit oor jou hele liggaam vryf en boonop
daarmee kook. Hoe weet ons
dat dit nie is wat aangaan in die koel
losbandigheid van slakke onder damp
stukkies karton nie? En as dit by die onkruid-
saailinge kom wat hulle ru snuite tussen die
blaarslaaie steek, hulle roep dit uit.
Liefde! Liefde! sing die soldate terwyl hulle met hul
glinsterende dolke salueer.

Dan is daar die twee
van ons. Hierdie woord
is gans te kort vir ons, dit het slegs
vier letters, te yl
om daardie diep naakte
ruimtes tussen die sterre te vul
wat op ons neerdruk met hul doofheid.
Dis nie liefde waarvoor ons
nie wens nie, maar die vrees.
Hierdie woord is nie voldoende nie maar
dit sal moet doen. Dis ’n enkele
vokaal in hierdie metaalagtige
stilswye, a mond wat oor en oor
O in verwondering en leed
uitspreek, ’n asem, a vinger-
greep op ’n krans. Jy kan
vashou of laat gaan.

© Chantelle Gray van Heerden

 

Variation on the word sleep

I would like to watch you sleeping,
which may not happen.
I would like to watch you,
sleeping. I would like to sleep
with you, to enter
your sleep as its smooth dark wave
slides over my head

and walk with you through that lucent
wavering forest of bluegreen leaves
with its watery sun & three moons
towards the cave where you must descend,
towards your worst fear

I would like to give you the silver
branch, the small white flower, the one
word that will protect you
from the grief at the center
of your dream, from the grief
at the center I would like to follow
you up the long stairway
again & become
the boat that would row you back
carefully, a flame
in two cupped hands
to where your body lies
beside me, and as you enter
it as easily as breathing in

I would like to be the air
that inhabits you for a moment
only. I would like to be that unnoticed
& that necessary.

© Margaret Atwood

Variations on the word love

This is a word we use to plug
holes with. It's the right size for those warm
blanks in speech, for those red heart-
shaped vacancies on the page that look nothing
like real hearts. Add lace
and you can sell
it. We insert it also in the one empty
space on the printed form
that comes with no instructions. There are whole
magazines with not much in them
but the word love, you can
rub it all over your body and you
can cook with it too. How do we know
it isn't what goes on at the cool
debaucheries of slugs under damp
pieces of cardboard? As for the weed-
seedlings nosing their tough snouts up
among the lettuces, they shout it.
Love! Love! sing the soldiers, raising
their glittering knives in salute.

Then there's the two
of us. This word
is far too short for us, it has only
four letters, too sparse
to fill those deep bare
vacuums between the stars
that press on us with their deafness.
It's not love we don't wish
to fall into, but that fear.
This word is not enough but it will
have to do. It's a single
vowel in this metallic
silence, a mouth that says
O again and again in wonder
and pain, a breath, a finger
grip on a cliffside. You can
hold on or let go.

© Margaret Atwood

 

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Chantelle Gray van Heerden is a doctoral student at the University of Stellenbosch. She completed her MA Degree in Cognitive Linguistics at UNISA where she lectured for five years. Her current research interests centre on the politics of translation and questions regarding the ontological and emergent ethical considerations of each translation instantiation. She is an avid reader of any good literature and philosophy in particular, though not exclusively, writes literary reviews and interviews, translates and writes short stories and, on occasion, has been known to write copy for wine labels. In her spare time she turns feral and returns to the mountains where she runs for hours.

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