Poem and translation

1 Ek skryf 'n brief aan die man op die maan-

2 bladsye en bladsye vol.

3 Ek rol dit in 'n koker op,

4 bind dit aan 'n pyl,

5 en skiet dit met 'n wilgerboog

6 dat dit hoog die lug inseil.

7 Ek sien hoe dit deur die sterre trek

8 en om die maan gaan draai

9 en al verder deur die donker lug 

10 'n duisend briewe saai.

11 Nou wonder ek

12 -en wonder jy?-

13 het hy ooit sy pos gekry,

14 of sou daar iemand anders wees

15 wat al die briewe dalk nou lees

I write a message to the man on the moon

pages and pages full.

I roll into a quiver,

bind it to an arrow

and shoot it with a willow bow

that it sails high into the sky.

I see how it flies through the stars

and goes and turns around the moon

and even further through the dark sky

a thousand letters sows.

Now I wonder

- and maybe you do as well -

did he ever get his post,

or could there be someone else

who reads all these letters now

Analysis

1 Ek skryf 'n brief aan die man op die maan-

2 bladsye en bladsye vol.

3 Ek rol dit in 'n koker op,

4 bind dit aan 'n pyl,

5 en skiet dit met 'n wilgerboog

6 dat dit hoog die lug inseil.

7 Ek sien hoe dit deur die sterre trek

8 en om die maan gaan draai

9 en al verder deur die donker lug 

10 'n duisend briewe saai.

11 Nou wonder ek

12 -en wonder jy?-

13 het hy ooit sy pos gekry,

14 of sou daar iemand anders wees

15 wat al die briewe dalk nou lees

Someone on the moon is possibly someone figurative - they don’t actually exist. Writing letters is a personal process, so the speaker might be confiding in someone.

Pages and pages means that this letter is long - there is a lot to say, a complicated topic.

Lines 3 -6 indicate how the writer packaged the letter. The speaker sends the letter by use of a bow and arrow. This then brings old-age imagery to the poem - imagery reminiscent of mystical times.

Lines 7-10 describe how the letter looks in the air. The speaker says that there are a thousand letters (hyperbole) that fly through the air. The speaker also indicates that these letters are sown together, indicating the immensity of the letter sent.

In these lines, the speaker indicates that they are unsure about something. The echoing rhetoric of “and wonder you” (line 12) shows this.

In lines 13-15, the reader sees that the speaker is unsure if the man on the moon receives his letters - the speaker indicates that someone else might have read the letters.

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