Hush Now, the Darkling Man by Ingrid Jonker

for Simone

On the green footpath
of the horizon far
around the earth little one,
an old man trudges who wears
an open moon in his hair
Nightingale in his heart
jasmin plucked for his buttonhole
and a back bowed down by his years.

What’s he doing, mummy?
He calls the crickets
He calls the black
silence that sings
like the rushes, my sweet
and the stars which throb
knock-knock my love,
like the tiny little beetles
in their thin far ring.

What’s his name, mummy?
His name is Hush
His name is Sleep
Mister Forget
from the Land of Dream
His name is hush
he’s called, my sweet
Hush now, the darkling man

Hush now, the darkling man


Date: 1963 (published in Afrikaans); 2007 (this English translation)

By: Ingrid Jonker (1933-1965)

Translated by: Antjie Krog (1952- ) and André Philippus Brink (1935- )

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