Archive for the ‘Lost in translation’ Category

Tussen de bedrijven door vind ik het ontspannend om een gedicht te vertalen, soms van het Engels naar het Nederlands en soms andersom. Een enkele keer waag ik me zelfs aan het Duits, mijn steenkolenduits wel te verstaan. En het voornemen is om zelfs Italiaans op deze manier te gaan oefenen, een cursus waarvoor ik toch meer moeite mag doen.
Vanavond dus Elsschots ‘Het huwelijk’, een zwart gedicht, weemoedig, cynisch en ergens met een laag zwarte humor.


‘The marriage’ by Willem Elsschot (1910)
When he noticed how the fog of time
put out the embers in his wife’s eyes,
eroded her cheeks, cleaved her forehead,
then he looked away and was consumed by regret.

He cursed and ranted and pulled at his own beard
and met her with that gaze, but could no longer love,
he saw the greatest sin in the duty of the devil
and how she looked up at him like a dying horse.

But she did not die, even though his hellish mouth sucked
the marrow from her bones, that kept on carrying her.
She did not dare to speak, to ask or to complain,
and shivered where she stood, but lived and stayed healthy.

He thought: I will beat her to death and burn down the house.
I have to wash this mould from my rigid feet
and run through the fire and through the puddles
untill I reach another love in someother country.

But he did not kill her, because inbetween dream and act
there are hindering laws and practical issues,
and even melancholy, that no one can explain
and that comes at night, when we all go to sleep.

The years went by. The children grew up
and saw how the man, they called their father,
seated motionlessly and silently at the fire place,
gave them a godforsaken and grizly gaze.


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