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HTS Theological Studies

On-line version ISSN 2072-8050
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SPIES, Lina. Vulnerability to resilience: The Afrikaans woman poet in patriarchal context. On Elisabeth Eybers's poetry and my own. Herv. teol. stud. [online]. 2014, vol.70, n.1, pp.01-13. ISSN 2072-8050.

This article gives an account of the nature and content of my religious poems that form a large part of my poetry. Looking back upon my substantial oeuvre, I realise that it was as a woman that I gave expression to the human condition and to my experience of religion. As a woman poet I identified with the first acknowledged Afrikaans woman poet, Elisabeth Eybers. Although a specific female tradition was never identified in the Afrikaans literary criticism, the Afrikaans woman poet writes from within a patriarchal society of which the Bible and Christian doctrine form the basis. This corresponds with the situation of the English and American woman poet. Feministic American literary critics have reflected in depth on the woman poet's dilemma, and have shown that the woman poet's struggle to find her own identity is not against the strong male or female poets who preceded her, but against the inhibiting voices that live within herself. At deepest it amounts to a conflict between fulfilling her traditional female role as prescribed to her by the patriarchy, and fulfilling her vocation as poet - a theme in both Eybers's and my work. Because of the different courses of our lives, the female identities expressed respectively in our work differ: Eybers's identity is that of woman and mother, and later unattached immigrant, while mine is that of an unmarried career woman. In this article I concentrate on the way in which we give expression to our female identities in our poetry as influenced by the traditional Christian belief system in which we were brought up. I give a comprehensive account of the influence of characteristic scriptural language on Eybers's and my own use of words, and I discuss our poems on biblical figures in detail.

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