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Tydskrif vir Geesteswetenskappe

versão On-line ISSN 2224-7912
versão impressa ISSN 0041-4751


TALJARD, Marlies. Poetic control and reinterpretation: T.T. Cloete's transcription of two antique texts in Onversadig ("Unquenched"). Tydskr. geesteswet. [online]. 2019, vol.59, n.1, pp.17-35. ISSN 2224-7912.

One of the most distinctive features of the poet T.T. Cloete's work is the great number of intertextual references to the work of other poets and texts. From numerous interviews, lectures and conversations, but also from documents such as his famous memoir, Die ander een is ek ("The other one I am") (Cloete 2013), it seems that the poet himself also regards intertextuality in many different forms and varieties as one of the most typical aspects of his poetic practice. In Die ander een is ekhe repeatedly demonstrates how his poems originated from, strike up conversations with and critically comment on other poems, stories, scientific articles, myths, philosophies and other texts. The purpose of this article is to analyze two poems from T.T. Cloete's later work in order to demonstrate his view of the "comprehensive poem" (Afr. "omvattende gedig"). It will be demonstrated how these two poems (which are exemplary of a large part of Cloete's poetic oeuvre) are composed of intertextual references to the work of many other poets and to the poet's own work. The assumption is made that the chosen poems represent the core aspects of Cloete's poetics and that they poetically shape the main thoughts which form the warp and woof of his self-reflexive work Die ander een is ek. The poetic practice of juxtaposition is used as an important theoretical basis for this article. In addition, different forms of intertextuality are investigated. In the two relevant poems the latter practice mainly appears in the form of verbatim rewriting of existing poems (transcription). The conclusion is made that, in the section "saamsing" ("singing together") in the volume Onversadig ("Unquenched"), a short concept of the poet's Ars Poetics is presented, and that he not only sheds light on his poetic practice, but also on his own personal identity as poet and disfigured individual in the poems "swerwende verse" ("migrating verses") and "Achilles se skild" ("Achilles's shield"). The first main point deals with the poem "swerwende verse". This poem is read as an extensive Ars Poetics in which the poet reflects on one of the most important themes in his creative work, namely his amazement at everything that was created, including specifically creative texts. He manipulates the ancient intertexts by quoting selectively those parts and ideas with which he can identify and which form the basis of his own life and world view as illustrated by his body of creative work. Then he fertilises the old poems with modern insights that ensue from the themes of the ancient poems. As an academic who is familiar with postmodernist theory, Cloete deliberately emphasizes the process of text construction and the constructed nature of his text. From snippets of the ancient texts he abstracts the essence of those texts and constructs a new text, representing the poet's own interpretation of the intertexts. In this way, he re-activates the old texts by making them relevant and stimulating to the modern reader. A poem that is structurally and thematically strongly associated with "swerwende verse" is "Achilles se skild". These two poems frame the section "saamsing" in Onversadig. According to Yuri Lotman (1972: 306), the frame of a narrative (and in this case also of a series of poems in which the "story" of the poet's creative work is "told") has an important structuring and thematic function. References to Achilles's shield often appear in Cloete's work and illustrate the concept of self-transcendation which Cloete, according to his memoir Die ander een is ek, regards as one of the most important aspects of the creative process. He identifies with the ancient myth of Achilles's Shield in more than one way. In the second main point I discuss the way in which Cloete identifies with the lame god Hefaistos of ancient Greece. Cloete himself was disfigured in his youth by poliomyelitis and often refers to himself in metaphors of disfiguration. The cripple who is also an artist is a constant theme in the poetical oeuvre of T.T. Cloete. By accentuating the role of Hefaistos in the poem "Achilles se skild" the poet makes a statement about his personal identity as a so-called "cripple". Hefaistos becomes a persona of the author himself.

Palavras-chave : T.T. Cloete; intertextuality; transcription; juxtaposition; Shield of Achilles; saamsing; ars poetics; Onversadig; identity construction; Hefaistos.

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