“Opdrag”: Inleiding of afskeid?
“Opdrag” [“Dedication”], the introductory poem of N. P. van Wyk Louw’s volume Die halwe kring [“The half circle”] of 1937, was in the past seen by critics as one of the texts in which the poet expressed some views on the task of the verbal artist. The question, however, is to which stage in his development the words “min, maar suiwer woorde” in the third stanza refer to: to the poems in Die halwe kring or to a future phase in his work as a poet, represented by his epic poem Raka (1941) and his volume Gestaltes en diere (1942). By introducing certain biographical details and the evidence from the manuscript, kept at the University Library at Stellenbosch, in the discussion, the text, apart from being a poem on the task of the poet, becomes an intense personal document which is the result of a human being’s life: his sorrow and distress as well as his joy and exultation.
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