Tydskrif vir letterkunde

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“Musiek kan my teken”: klanke, voëlgeluide en musiek in die digkuns van Lina Spies

Heinrich van der Mescht


The appearance of Lina Spies's eighth volume of poetry, Duskant die einders (This side of the horizons, 2004) prompted a reinvestigation of her oeuvre. This volume was preceded by Digby vergenoeg (Close by far enough, 1971, which was awarded the Ingrid Jonker and Eugène Marais Awards), Winterhawe (Winter harbour, 1973), Dagreis (Day journey, 1976), Oorstaanson (Leftover sun, 1982), Van sjofar tot sjalom (From Shofar to Shalom, 1987), Hiermaals (1992) and Die skaduwee van die son (The shadow of the sun, 1998). The auditive aspects of Spies's poetry have not previously been explored in detail. This investigation presents a further perspective on her poetry, adding to the commonly accepted notion that her work concentrates on themes of loneliness, the craving for a child, spiritual hurt, religion, words, nature, cats, friends, family relations, and famous individuals. An analysis of her eight volumes clearly indicates that the auditive experience plays a major role in her life and poetry. There are numerous examples of references to sounds, birdcalls, music, composers and specific compositions. Many of the sounds relate to her youth and her study period in Amsterdam. Among the birdcalls the cooing of doves is conspicuously present. Spies's background as an Afrikaner child determined her understanding of music. She had piano lessons (unsuccessfully) and was exposed to the Saturday evening radio programme “U eie keuse” (Your own choice), from which some of the references in her poetry stem. The music pieces which found their way into her poems reflect the poet's personality, and form part of the more accessible melody-driven category of music, for example works by Mozart and Schubert, her favourite composers. She regards the German art song as especially significant, as it constitutes a connection between her two passions: words and music. During her singing lessons she sang many art songs, and there are references to songs by Beethoven, Schubert, Schumann, Grieg and Brahms. Spies's musical knowledge sometimes finds expression in her striking use of music terms.

Keywords: Lina Spies (Afrikaans poet), Afrikaans poetry and music, auditive features in poetry

Tydskrif vir Letterkunde • 43(1) • 2006: 122-140
AJOL African Journals Online