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Valley van verlatenheid
Valley van verlatenheid
Painting by Trienke Laurie
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List of works

Poem: Met apologie

Click to see full picture   Opperman
Dirk Opperman
painting by Philip Terblanche   Drawing by Bert du Plessis
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D. J. Opperman

1914 - 1985

Opperman

One of South Africa's most important poets and literary men
Professor of Afrikaans Literature at
the University of Stellenbosch, 1960 - 1979

Diederik Johannes Opperman was born on 29 September 1914 on the farm Geduld No2 near Dundee, Natal. He attended school in Estcourt and Vryheid. He studied at the University of Natal in Pietermaritzburg (MA, 1935, thesis: Die Afrikaanse kritiek tot 1922 ) and the University of Cape Town (DLit, 1953, thesis: Digters van Dertig).
1935: Teacher in Pietermaritzburg
1945: Teacher in Johannesburg
Opperman's first poetry book, Heilige beeste, published in 1945, was the beginning of a long and lustrous career as one of South Africa's greatest Afrikaans poets.
1946 - 1948: Journalist at Die Huisgenoot in Cape Town
From 1947: Co-editor of Standpunte
1949 - 1959: Department of Afrikaans and Dutch, University of Cape Town
In 1954 appeared, to great acclaim, Periandros van Korinthe. It is also South Africa's very first Afrikaans drama set in verse.
1956: Rembrandt bursary gives him the opportunity for extensive travels through Europe.
1960-1979: Professor of Afrikaans Literature at the University of Stellenbosch, where he introduced his famous Letterkundige Laboratorium, which he continued for one year after his retirement. 1980: extraordinary professor for one year. (See Die Letterkundige Laboratorium van die Universiteit van Stellenbosch (1960 - 1984) by Johann Lodewyk Marais at LitNet.)

In 1976 Dirk Opperman had a miraculous recovery from a liver decease which had kept him in a coma for nearly 7 months. He described his experiences in the poems in Komas uit 'n bamboesstok. In 1981, while working on Sonklong oor Afrika he suffered a debilitating stroke.
Dirk Opperman died on 22 September 1985 in Stellenbosch. He was married to the writer Marié van Reenen in 1942. They had three daughters: Heila, Trienke and Diederi.

Hobbies:Viniculture and Marine Biology

Awards:
Hertzog Prize for Poetry:
1947 for Heilige Beeste, 1969 for Voëlvry and 1980 Komas uit 'n bamboesstok
Hertzog Prize for drama 1956 for Periandros van Korinthe, and 1969 for Voëlvry
Gustav Preller prize for Literature and Literary Criticism, 1985
SA Academy of Arts and Science: Honorary Member 1983
CNA Award for:
1964 Dolosse and 1980 Komas uit 'n bamboesstok
WA Hofmeyr Prize for:
1954 Periandros van Korinthe, 1956 Blom en Baaierd, 1966 Dolosse and 1980 Komas uit 'n bamboesstok
Louis Luyt prize 1980 for : Komas uit 'n bamboesstok
Gustav Preller Prize 1985 for literary criticism

Doctor honoris causa:
1968 University of Natal, 1976 University of Stellenbosch, 1980 University of Cape Town and 1982 University of Pretoria

1956: Prize of the Drie-Eeue Stigting
In the sixties he became a Honorary Member of the Koninklijke Vlaamse Academie voor Nederlandse Taal- en Letterkunde
1970: Diplôme d'Honneur du Prix de la Propagande
1979: KWV Award
1977: Diploma, União Brasileira de Escritores, Manaus

List of works:
Poetry:
Heilige Beeste, 1945
Negester oor Ninivé, 1947
Joernaal van Jorik,1949
Engel uit die Klip, 1950
Blom en Baaierd, 1956
Dolosse, 1963
Kuns-mis, 1964
Edms. Bpk., 1970
Komas uit 'n bamboesstok, 1979
Sonklong oor Afrika (published posthumously by JC Kannemeyer), Tafelberg 2000

Versdramas:
Periandros van Korinthe, 1954
Vergelegen, 1956
Voëlvry, 1968

Literary Studies:
Die Afrikaanse kritiek tot 1922 (MA thesis)
Digters van Dertig, 1953, (PhD thesis)
Wiggelstok
Naaldekoker, 1974
Verspreide opstelle

Collaborator: Wêreldletterkunde, Die Skatkis

Anthologies:
Groot verseboek and compilations (extended edition by A. Brinck, Tafelberg, 2000)
Nuwe Kleuterverseboek
Skakering (Editors and compilers: DJ Opperman; GHJ Coetzee), Tafelberg, 1997
Senior Verseboek

See also: T.T. Cloete, Gids by D.J. Opperman Se Senior Verseboek

Joernaal van Jorik (Journal of Jorik), Roelof Temmingh's exceptional composition is based on the text of DJ Opperman. A CD was released by Die Vriende van Afrikaans in 2013.

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Met apologie

Teks:
Op ’n Sondagmiddag loop die weduwee Viljee
in swart geklee
met twee kolliehonde langs die see.

C. M. van den Heever:
O skemervloeiing van die najaarsee!
Jou Sondagende branders plooi en val
en langs twee meeue dwaal ek geweduwee
maar ewig ruis om my die Al.

I. D. du Plessis:
My twee windhonde draf
soos fezze langs die see;
ek vra Ali en Allah af
waar is meneer Viljee?

W. E. G. Louw:
Droef kyk my oë
deur die trane heen,
soos amandelbloeisels
deur die eerste reën;
ek rou oor die duine,
my bleek hande waai,
en ’n hond byt sy stert, soos hy draai, soos hy draai …

N. P. van Wyk Louw I:
O God! làngs U skríklike water
stap die weduwee Viljee
met dié weet: die waan en die waansin word later
twee honde wat dráf waar sy trèe.

N. P. van Wyk Louw II:
Op ’n Sabbatmiddag
(die dag is goed)
lê la veuve de Villiers
die heilige snol
bo die boulevard
(a) aars-e-lende om te kies
effens be-swaard
tussen twee kol-lies(te)

Uys Krige:
O wee,
o wee,
in swart geklee
op'n Sondagmiddag
loop die we-
duwee
Viljee
met twee,
net twee
kolliehonde langs die see,
die see,
die see …

Elisabeth Eybers:
Portret van ’n weduwee
Sy staar na die blou are op haar hand
terwyl sy in die Sondagmiddag wat
neerskyn op die rustelose strand,
geduldig sit of loop en peins: Nou dat
die vreemde bloeisel van herinnering
– skaars liefde, skaars geluk – nog vir haar bly
sal sy uit hierdie aardse wisseling
en haar verlies tog weer die sterkte kry.
So het sy klaarheid in haar gees gevind
en so geweet die middag langs die see
sy sal aan die twee kinders wat haar bind
haar hele lewe wy as weduwee;
en word sy later weer deur een gevra
wat sal sy vir hom antwoord: Nee of Ja?

Ernst van Heerden:
In lanferwimpels tree,
haar wandelstok ’n swaard,
die weduwee Viljee
in grandiose vaart
verby die sinderende kaai.
Waarheen die bruingepeesde spiere,
die slink en wulpse draai
van haar kaniene diere?

S. J. Pretorius:
O Here! ek word so opgewonne
as ek die arme honne
so kaalpoot sien draf,
maar wat kan ek, we-
duwee Viljee,
doen met my pullover en staf?

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Drawing by Bertie du Plessis, www.mindpilot.co.za

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