C. Louis Leipoldt

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Dr
C. Louis Leipoldt
C Louis Leipoldt05.jpg
Leipoldt c. 1915
Born Christian Frederik Louis Leipoldt
Worcester, Cape Province
Died Cape Town
Resting place Pakhuis Pass, Clanwilliam
Occupation Poet
Language Afrikaans
Nationality South African
Literary movement Second Afrikaans Movement

Dr. Christian Frederik Louis Leipoldt, usually referred to as C. Louis Leipoldt, (/ˈlpɒlt/ 28 December 1880 – 12 April 1947) was a South African poet who wrote in Afrikaans . Together with Jan F. E. Celliers and J. D. du Toit , he was one of the leading figures in the poetry of the Second Afrikaans Movement. Apart from poetry, Leipoldt wrote novels, plays, stories, children's books, cookbooks and a travel diary. He is numbered amongst the greatest of the Afrikaner poets and he was described by D. J. Opperman, himself a noted South African poet, as "our most versatile artist".[1]

Biography[edit]

Leipoldt c. 1925

Leipoldt was born in Worcester in the Cape Province, the son of a preacher, Christian Friedrich Leipoldt, of the NG Kerk in Clanwilliam and grandson of the Rhenish missionary, Johann Gottlieb Leipoldt, who founded Wupperthal in the Cederberg. His mother was Anna Meta Christiana Esselen, daughter of Louis Franz Esselen (1817–1893), another Rhenish missionary at Worcester. His early education was largely at home and for a while, during the Second Boer War, he was a reporter. Between 1902 and 1907, with funding from the botanist Harry Bolus, he studied medicine at Guy's Hospital in London and travelled in Europe, America and the East Indies. At times his health was poor. For a period of some six months during 1908, he was the personal physician of the American newspaper magnate, Joseph Pulitzer, aboard Pulitzer's yacht.[2]

Later Leipoldt's career was varied. For a period he was a school doctor in London before becoming the Medical Inspector of Schools[3] in the Transvaal and then in the Cape Province. He returned to journalism for a while (1923) but finally settled down as a paediatrician in Cape Town in 1925. He never married. He died in Cape Town but, because of his deep love for the Hantam— a mountainous and wild district north of Cape Town— his ashes were laid to rest in the rugged Pakhuis Pass (Storehouse Pass), near Clanwilliam.

Faint Rock Art above the grave

His grave is situated at the base of a cave-like opening on the mountain face. Directly above his tombstone there are faint drawings on the sandstone that were made by Bushmen many years before his death. Leipoldt had an adopted son, Jeffery Barnet Leipoldt. Jeffery died on 21 November 1997. His ashes were scattered on his father's grave. Jeffery had three daughters, Nerina, Karen and Desre, who live in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Poetry[edit]

The Worst Horror

This is the bitterest thing of all my days,
That which I have loved so well, that now is dead
And in a coffin laid away, of lead
And cedarwood, immortal somewhere stays,
Or as a ghost-cloud goes its lonely ways
By strange and boundless forces urged ahead,
Perhaps, like me, forlorn, uncomforted,
But out of reach, howe'er one pleads or prays,
Day after day with unending lament.
This is the bitterest thing, that I no hand
Can reach to help, or comfort to impart,
No aid can give, and no encouragement;
And that there wanders in that ghostly land
Forlorn, that which I loved with all my heart!

(Translated by C. J. D Harvey)[4]

Leipoldt wrote much about nature in general and in particular about the landscapes and legends of his beloved Hantam. His poetry also deals with the suffering caused by the Second Boer War and the culture and values of the Cape Malays. Most of his work does not translate well into English.

Legacy[edit]

The C. Louis Leipoldt Medical Centre in Cape Town is named after the poet, as is the Louis Leipoldt Primary School in Lyttelton (Centurion).

References[edit]

  1. ^ D.J. Opperman (undated, probably 1962). Senior verseboek (9th impression ed.). Cape Town: Nationale Boekhandel Ltd.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  2. ^ J.C Kannemeyer (1999). Leipoldt 'n Lewensverhaal. Cape Town: Tafelberg Uitgewers Beperk. Translation: Leipoldt a biography. Table Mountain Publishers Ltd. 
  3. ^ C. Louis Leipoldt (1937). Bushveld Doctor. Jonathan Cape. 
  4. ^ A P Grové and CJD Harvey (1969). Afrikaans Poems With English Translations (First paperback impression ed.). Cape Town: Oxford University Press. 

External links[edit]