Song of the Broken String: After the /Xam Bushmen--Poems from a Lost Oral Tradition / Edition 1

Song of the Broken String: After the /Xam Bushmen--Poems from a Lost Oral Tradition / Edition 1

by Stephen Watson
     
 

ISBN-10: 1878818430

ISBN-13: 9781878818430

Pub. Date: 12/01/1991

Publisher: Sheep Meadow Press, The

The /Xam Bushmen, hunters, gatherers, some poets among them, were a stone age people who survived nearly 5,000 years in the region now known as the Cape Province of South Africa. By the turn of this century they had completely disappeared, destroyed finally by the murderous European settlement of the interior. Song of the Broken String has its provenance in the oral…  See more details below

Overview

The /Xam Bushmen, hunters, gatherers, some poets among them, were a stone age people who survived nearly 5,000 years in the region now known as the Cape Province of South Africa. By the turn of this century they had completely disappeared, destroyed finally by the murderous European settlement of the interior. Song of the Broken String has its provenance in the oral tradition of this ancient culture. In the 1860s, a German linguist named W. H. Bleek become aware of the genocide in progress. Taking into his service three /Xam Bushmen he found working as convict laborers in a chain gang, he set about preserving a small part of their heritage. After devising a phonetic notation of the /Xam's language, he transcribed the personal narratives, songs, and folktales of these three men and translated them into English. Housed in an archive at the University of Cape Town, the 12,000 pages of the Bleek and Lloyd Collection are all that remains of this people and their language. Stephen Watson, a contemporary South African poet, has explored this archive, "re-translating" Bleek's word-for-word English prose into poems in which something of the power of those original voices lives on, however filtered through the 19th century ethnographer and the 20th century writer. The results not only offer a path into a powerful oral tradition, but also raise questions about the ways in which we listen to and "translate" cultures that are distant or lost. Song of the Broken String does not bring back the /Xam, it is not a collection of artifacts. Something survives here that is almost monumental, certainly beautiful.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781878818430
Publisher:
Sheep Meadow Press, The
Publication date:
12/01/1991
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
101
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.40(d)

Table of Contents

Introduction
In a Far-Off Place3
The Rain-Sorcerer4
Rain in a Dead Man's Footsteps5
Sun, Moon, and Stars6
Prayer to the New Moon7
The Sound of the Stars8
Throwing Fire at the Stars9
The Girl Who Created the Milky Way10
The Sun, the Moon, and the Knife12
What Happens When You Die13
The Nature of /Kaggen14
The Dawn's Heart Star: Two Fragments15
Song of the Dawn's Heart Star16
Blue Mist Like Smoke17
The Origin of the Moon18
A Feather Thrown into the Sky19
Song of Four Winds20
What Is the Moon?21
The Maiden and the Rain22
Rainmaking with a Bow-String24
The Abandoned Old Woman25
The Anger of the Moon26
Catching a Porcupine28
The Rain that Is Male30
Presentiments31
Sneezing Out a Lion32
Sorcerers Are Like Lions33
The Powers of the Dead34
The Wild is One with the Man36
Jackal Clouds37
The Lost Tobacco Pouch: A Song38
Our Blood Makes Smoke39
The Story of Ruyter40
Song of the Broken String41
Xaa-ttin's Lament43
Kabbo's Road into Captivity44
The Name of My Place47
What Is Your Name?48
The Meaning of a Sneeze49
Cows and Twigs50
Kabbo Tells Me His Dream51
Kabbo's Request for Thread53
Return of the Moon54
Index of Poems by Narrator59
Notes to the Poems61
Appendix of original transcripts69

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