Change the world

Language & Literature

Translated Poems – Marius Crous (resident poet & lecturer Afrikaans & Dutch literature & Creative writing)

Language

1

let us pray together in a language
that has the sins within it
of tortured teenagers maimed mothers
hanged husbands servile security policemen
a language that never wanted to be humane
on the pulpits in lecture halls in classrooms
newspapers
never wanted to cry out against injustice

let it be purified
make it a language of mercy
stripped bare and sublime
that speaks of wrongs in the time of skulls
set it free like a victim
tied to a chair against his will
somewhere in some dark office tower
so that now after all these years
god could follow

2
at nuremberg hitler calls in grandiose german
for an attack on all that reeks of jew
in cape town verwoerd asks in his purest afrikaans
follow me into the desert of aparthate

but so is german too the tongue of goethe
the sound of schubert
is afrikaans also the language of opperman
expressing the defiance of breyten breytenbach

The two poems are translations of "Kom ons bid saam" and "Versettaal", which both appear in my first collection of poetry, Brief uit die kolonies (2003).