Twelve Languages, Thirteen Perspectives

In general I am, I’m pretty sure, a privileged if still very limited witness, having been a part-time inhabitant of the Cape for nearly twenty years and remained the most passionate of lovers, for just as long, of the whole blessed glorious pandemonium there on the underside of what we so often call, both properly and improperly, ‘the Dark…

Lost and Found in Vollezele

I was born left-handed and changed over because my mother believed that to be left-handed was a kind of deficiency. As a result I’ve got a strange kind of spatial dyslexia, I struggle to understand maps and I pretty much always get lost. I like it. I enjoy getting lost because it gives me an…

The Making of a Translator

There was a framed Dutch proverb hanging on the wall in my parents’ house. Embroidered in gold on black satin, it read: ‘Gezelligheid kent geen tijd’ – ‘Time flies when you’re having fun’. It was a gift from the Netherlands, from when my father’s brother had studied classical languages at Utrecht University in the 1950s.…

Two Poems

Rules for the End of Time The New Jerusalem will no doubt have opened at last so you’ll all sit, serene, each under your own tree and dying as a word will be extinct, and births won’t be an issue any more. But honour them still, the caresses, melancholy, in some sense unsuspecting, so fingertip-light…

Raging Against Deficiency

Anneke Brassinga The world does not fit us. Screaming and helpless, to quote Lucretius, we wash up like castaways on the shore of life, where for a few decades we wander around feverishly in a realm we will never understand, where in the end we miserably disintegrate and ingloriously rot away. Throughout our lives we…