NaPoWriMo Day #21

Homophonic Translation

Tuesday, April 21, 2020/Categories: Entries

NaPoWriMo Day #21

Poetry Day #21

Our task today was to find a poem in a language we don’t know and perform a “homophonic translation”.

I don’t even understand those English words – it means to translate it simply by how it sounds – I could have listened to it – but instead I decided to go a little rogue and just do it based on how it looks – if I were just reading it to myself how in the world would I know how it should sound, I do not speak Afrikaans, but have translated this poem Alter Ego by Charl-Pierre Naudé. I will not tag him because I’m sure he would be highly offended if he read this – I literally just looked at his poem and typed my poem – no revision, no looking back. The photo today is a corner of a piece of art I own, by Phil Dees.




Sometimes poetry

Is a bit ridiculous

Maybe it’s just me


Alter Ego

A soldier dies trapped without spring

War ravages his small kindred spirit

And walks him by the hand to the guillotine

But does not ask him why he is there


There is no life left in his sphere

His ghost wanders, still trapped

Haunted by a slut with the clap

To the ends of the war torn earth


To die in disgrace with a broken neck

Is shocking and unflattering

A lone star in an otherwise dark sky


My mind cries out for your other life

Before you died entangled in such a mess

Without honor or love and half starved




Die trappe na die solder kan my nou nog verruk.
Waar rakke raaisels uit kindsdae span en die smal,
helder luik aan die ver ent se guillotine soms val
dat vere uit die skemer sak, en die skrik

al’s ’n oomblik laat skarrel, het ek weer
gestaan: geboë. Ou deure waardeur niemand stap
en verroeste rame wat nie sluit of klap nie
het eenkant gelê, kettings, reistasse wat verweer

in die geheue. Van nêrens het ’n bries gepluk
deur ’n jeugboek. By ’n vuurhoutjie se flenterlig
staar ’n skadu-gesig, vol skynroet, armoedig

na my terug uit ’n óú spieël, halfvergete.
‘Die solder spook,’ het Ma gesê. Ek moes so terugkeer
na onder, ’n half-swarte, vanuit die gewete.

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