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Tydskrif vir Geesteswetenskappe

versão On-line ISSN 2224-7912

Tydskr. geesteswet. vol.49 no.4 Pretoria  2009

 

Kreolisering van die Simbolisme in die poësie van T T Cloete*

 

Creolization of Symbolism in T T Cloete's poetry

 

 

Hein Viljoen

Navorsingseenheid: Tale en literatuur in die Suid-Afrikaanse konteks, Noordwes-Universiteit, Potchefstroom. E-pos:Hein.Viljoen@nwu.ac.za

 

 


OPSOMMING

Hierdie artikel is 'n ondersoek na T T Cloete se gebruik van die internasionale Simbolisme. Die aaname is dat hy daardie digterlike stelsel op drie maniere herskryf het, naamlik om deur vermenging nuwe vorme te ontwikkel, deur die uitdrukkingskrag daarvan te verhoog en deur dit plaaslik en Suid-Afrikaans te maak, maar dit terselfdertyd vir homself toe te eien en dit aan te pas binne sy eie poëtika. Vier aspekte van die Simbolisme word bespreek, naamlik die simbolistiese werkwyse, Simbolisme en musiek, die simbolistiese toon en die korrespondensies. Die vernaamste bevindings is dat Cloete die uitdrukkingskrag van die Simbolisme vergroot het deur dit te moderniseer, maar ook deur dit te deologiseer - dit wil sê deur dit in 'n instrument te omvorm vir die bestudering van Deus, God.

Trefwoorde: Simbolisme, kreolisering, simbolistiese werkwyse, Simbolisme en musiek, simbolistiese toon, korrespondensies, deologisering


ABSTRACT

This article is an investigation of T T Cloete's rewriting of international Symbolism, the assumption being that he has creolized this poetic system in three ways, namely by developing new forms by mixing, by increasing its expressive power and by making it local and South African, but also by appropriating and adapting it to his own poetical system. After pointing out two indications of creolization in Cloete's work, namely the creative mixing of words and concepts and the mixing of indigenous and colonial language, Symbolism is defined as a deliberate exploitation of ambiguity based on the notion of correspondences between all earthly things. Natural elements are used as metaphors, combined with all the resources of language to suggest a deeper or truer but unformulated second content in a poem. Creolization is here, in accordance with the views of É. Glissant, defined as a rhizomatic understanding of texts in complex webs of relations with three important core meanings, namely mixing of languages, cultures and traditions, a making-local that also entails appropriation and emulation and an expansion of the expressive power of the tradition. The analysis of the ways in which Cloete has transformed the symbolist tradition in poetry along these lines focuses on four aspects of Symbolism, namely the symbolist technique, Symbolism and music, the symbolist tone and the correspondences. Cloete's creolization of the symbolist method is explored in two poems, namely "oopooggebed aan ontbyttafel" (open-eyed prayer at the breakfast table) from Allotroop (1985) and "Insinjes" (Ensigns) from Met die aarde praat (Talking to the earth, 1992). In these poems Cloete evokes a second meaning without really giving it form in the way he uses natural things as metaphors and by subtle allusions to the Symbolists and their favourite colours. The latter poem also shows how Cloete enriches the symbolist tradition with words and concepts from natural science but also transforms it into a way of evoking the in-living of God. The next section links Cloete's symbolist use of bird imagery and bird song to the symbolist equation of music and poetry. In Cloete's poetry the ear is a favourite organ, since it brings disparate elements together. The sound of poetry is in his work a powerful instrument for the expression of the coherence of the whole cosmos and for evoking a second meaning, namely the presence of God in everything. The same goes for the way in which Cloete's poetry deals with the symbolist view of the imminence of death and the passing away of all things. His poetry presents an alternative to mortality by showing a universal interconnectedness and by developing new, modern metaphors for the synthetic power of poetry. One of them is the "laseraspaai" (laser I spy) - a modern instrument for spying out the rich interconnected diversity of creation. This universal interconnectedness, the idea that each thing contains a fine hidden essence of every other thing, is a central tenet of Symbolism and is creolized in Cloete's poetry in a variety of ways and, in his different collections, each time in a different metaphor that underlines this interconnectedness as well as the terrible state of being unconnected: juxtaposition, allotropy, entelegy, idiolect, curiosity. The all-inclusive whole is God, and His presence is evoked in Cloete's poetry in a myriad symbolist ways. Mixing languages and creating new compound words are but two of them. Though it focuses in the small and the local, in Cloete's poetry the unique time and place of every element is illuminated by the illimitable and the universal. Everything has its place in a great chain of being. On the whole, Cloete increases the expressive power of Symbolism not only by modernizing, but also by deologizing it, that is, by turning it into an instrument for the study of Deus, God.

Key concepts: Symbolism, creolization, symbolist method, symbolism and music, symbolist tone, correspondences, deologizing.


 

Full text available only in PDF format.

 

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* Uitgebreide weergawe van 'n T T Cloete-erelesing gelewer op 22 Augustus 2007.
1 Vergelyk Viljoen & Van der Merwe (2007) vir 'n beredenering daarvan.
2 Kyk bv. "Van mossies en meer" en "ballade van die mossie" in Angelliera, p. 5, 53.
3 Anna Balakian, The Symbolist Movement, aangehaal deur Grass (1984:231) - vgl. ook Gilfillan (1993:601).

 

 

Hein Viljoen het in Potchefstroom, Pretoria en Utrecht gestudeer en is tans professor in Afrikaans en Nederlands aan die Noordwes-Universiteit (Potchefstroomkampus) en direkteur van die Navorsingseenheid Tale en literatuur in die Suid-Afrikaanse konteks. Hy spesialiseer in literêre teorie, die Suid-Afrikaanse prosa en die Afrikaanse poësie. Hy is mede-skrywer en redakteur van twee onlangse versamelings opstelle oor ruimte en identiteit en liminaliteit in die Suid-Afrikaanse letterkunde, nl. Storyscapes (2004) en Beyond the threshold (2007). Tans spits hy sy navorsing toe op hibriditeit en kreolisering asook grense in en van die letterkunde. Hy is ook hoofredakteur van Literator. Sy tweede digbundel, Holtrom en groot kabaal, het in 2003 verskyn.

Hein Viljoen studied in Potchefstroom, Pretoria and Utrecht and is at present professor in Afrikaans and Dutch literature at the North-West University (Potchefstroom Campus) and director of the Research Unit Languages and Literature in the South African Context. He is a specialist in literary theory, the South African novel and Afrikaans poetry. Recently, he has co-authored and edited two collections of research essays on space and identity and on liminality in South African literature, namely Storyscapes (2004) and Beyond the threshold (2007). At present his research is focused on creolization in literature and on boundaries in and of literature. He also is editor in chief of Literator. His second collection of poetry, Holtrom en groot kabaal, was published in 2003.

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