Literature with Other Arts
Edited By Haun Saussy and Gerald Gillespie
Some Intersections between Landscape and Poetry in Afrikaans Poetry since 1990
North-West University, South Africa
One classical intersection between poetry and landscapes is Horace’s view that poems are like pictures. Or that, to misquote Simonides of Kos slightly, a landscape is a mute poem and a poem a talking landscape.
ut pictura poesis: erit quae, si propius stes,te capiat magis, et quaedam, si longius abstes;haec amat obscurum, volet haec sub luce videri,iudicis argutum quae non formidat acumen;haec placuit semel, haec deciens repetita placebit. (Horace 361–65)
A poem is like a painting: the closer you stand to this one the more it will impress you, whereas you have to stand a good distance from that one; this one demands a rather dark corner, but that one needs to be seen in full light, and will stand up to the keen-eyed scrutiny of the art-critic; this one only pleased you the first time you saw it, but that one will go on giving pleasure however often it is looked at. (Dorsch 91–92)
The words of Horace, up to abstes, are the words that the South African poet Breyten Breytenbach uses as a motto for his 1993 collection Nege landskappe van ons tye bemaak aan die beminde (Nine Landscapes of our Times Bequeathed to the Beloved).
What this means is in dispute. Horace regards poems as comparable to pictures, not because they are similar, but because they can,...
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