Monday/ the crates of a life

My brothers and I have started tackling the sorting and categorization of the vast contents of my dad’s study.  It is a large room filled with book cases, filing cabinets, desks and drawers, and electronic equipment : a lifetime’s worth of documents, pictures, mementos and possessions.

The stuff has to move; our frames of mind have to move.  There is a classic Afrikaans poem that provides instructions to the movers – movers of different kinds.  I posted it in Afrikaans first, with below it my own crude attempt at a translation into English.

Aan die Verhuisingsmanne
Uit ‘Tyd van Verhuising’, 1975 – Ernst van Heerden

Dra saggies, vriende,
want sierpotte en erdewerk,
keurborde en fyn glas
sluit ‘n hele lewe
met sy drome
en verlangens in;

Dra saggies, mededraers,
want die drag
van veerbed,
tafels, lessenaar
druk teen die bors
se dun skelet;

Dra saggies, regters,
want die oordeel
oor my klein bedryf
lê vasgevang
in prente, boeke
en ‘n eie ou gemakstoel;

Dra saggies, gode,
want die hart se porselein
is broos en tot veel seer
en kwesbaarheid geneig:
die kratte van ‘n lewe
kan so maklik breek.

 

To the Movers
from Tyd van Verhuising (‘A Time of Moving’), 1975 – Ernst van Heerden

Carry softly, friends,
for vases and pottery,
choice plates and fine glass
encompass an entire life
with its dreams
and desires;

Carry softly, fellow carriers,
for the bearing
of feather bed,
tables, desk
press against the thin skeleton
of the chest;

Carry softly, judges,
for judgement
of my small industry
lie trapped in pictures, books
and an old easy chair;

Carry softly, gods,
for the porcelain of the heart
is fragile and prone to much hurt
and vulnerability:
the crates of a life
can break so easily.

4 Replies to “Monday/ the crates of a life”

  1. Besonderse gedig vir hierdie somber dae. Die lewe is inderdaad broos. Mag julle vertroosting vind in julle herinneringe van gelukkige dae met Christo.

    1. Ag, ek is bly jy kon dit gebruik! Dankie vir die boodskap. My innige simpatie aan jou & julle familie vir julle verlies. W.

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