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неділя, 28 березня 2010 р.

Coetzee the Translator

It's always fascinating to discover translations made by famed authors. Landscape with Rowers is an anthology of Dutch poetry translated and introduced by J. M. Coetzee. It features 6 modern and contemporary Dutch poets. The following poem Ballad of the Gasfitter is by Gerrit Achterberg (and go here to read it alongside the original):


GERRIT ACHTERBERG
BALLAD OF THE GASFITTER


1


You must have made your entry from the rear.
To each house in the row I turn my glance
and in each curtained window catch a glimpse
of You, as out of nothing You appear.


As I move past You seem to slip away.
Yet I am not mistaken, vide the next frame.
One Jansen lives there with his family--
as if You could escape under that name.


The ruse won't work. A door remains a door,
each with its steps, its mailbox, and its bell.
The apple hawker lures you with his call.
A master key is easy to procure.
Indeed I can quite freely step inside
as (at your service) gasfitter by trade.


2


At your address, by daylight, on the job
disguised in workman's clothing, I wheel round
and behold You standing there. Walls turn to ground,
ceiling slowly becomes a marble slab.


We fade to each other in murky light.
The room is saturated, won't hold more.
This can't go on. I turn the screws down tight.
As long as I devote myself to this chore


we can proceed as we are, incognito--
as long as I stay busy, bend or kneel
or lie flat on my belly trying to feel
what's wrong; thinking to myself, It's better so.
Dead silence by a hammer blow dispelled.
Death hush by which the hammer blows are healed.
Translated by J. M. Coetzee

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