Winternag – Winter Night by Eugene Marais

Enjoy Winternag, Winter Night by Eugene Marais here in both Afrikaans and English.
Eugene Marais was a South African lawyer, naturalist, poet and writer. He wrote this poem in 1905.

Winternag, Eugene Marais

‘O koud is die windjie
en skraal.
En blink in die dof-lig
en kaal,
so wyd as die Heer se genade,
lê die velde in sterlig en skade
En hoog in die rande,
versprei in die brande,
is die grassaad aan roere
soos winkende hande.

O treurig die wysie
op die ooswind se maat,
soos die lied van ‘n meisie
in haar liefde verlaat.
In elk’ grashalm se vou
blink ‘n druppel van dou,
en vinnig verbleek dit
tot ryp in die kou!’

Winter Night, Eugene Marais

‘Cold is the slight wind and sere.
And gleaming in dim light and bare,
as vast as the mercy of God,
lie the plains in starlight and shade.
And high on the ridges,
among the burnt patches,
the seed grass is stirring
like beckoning fingers.

O tune grief-laden
on the east wind’s pulse
like the song of a maiden
whose lover proves false.
In each grass blade’s fold
a dew drop gleams bold,
but quickly it bleaches
to frost in the cold!’

English translation by Guy Butler)

Originally published in Afrikaans Poems with English Translations edited by A. P. Grove and C. J. Harvey, Cape Town, Oxford University Press, 1962

winternag winter night afrikaans english
Winternag, Winter Night by Eugene Marais – a poem in Afrikaans and English

Eugène Marais (1871-1936) had twelve brothers and sisters and grew up between Pretoria, Boshof and Paarl, South Africa. Whatever Eugène learnt at home he learnt from his mother, Catharina. Much of his early education was in English, as were his earliest poems. In 1890, at only 19 years of age, Eugène became editor of the weekly Land en Volk, the only Dutch-Afrikaans opposition newspaper in the Transvaal. The following year he became the paper’s co-owner and by 1892 the newspaper’s readership doubled. He was responsible for writing the entire paper and selling advertising space. He is remembered as the father of Afrikaans poetry.

You might also enjoy reading:
32 original Afrikaans idioms sure to make you smile once translated into English

A Poem You Can Read in English and Afrikaans

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