Saturday, 14 November 2009

Three poems by the Dutch poet Willem Jan Otten


Since I was small I’ve known about this hole.
If my mind’s eye sees it, I see me
in the aforeseen winter’s day when I,
truanting in the lingering dawn,
risked the unskated, man-forsaken void of
the Ankeveen Lake where this very same hole,
with me aforethought, lay in wait.
If my mind’s eye sees it, I see me
in this hole until it starts to sing of sunk;
a hole is singing softly in my ear,
becoming now not fear alone but
what I hear: a voice, a sound, a moan.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

On every branch lay snow down to the slightest twig.
No wind no roe no sigh no thing that stirred.
Each branch a hand with on its back a bubble
floated down and yet intact. It did not snow.

Oh take me further on than stillness will,
I fearer who breathes amen ice-holes in all frosted
panes, if need be squeeze me through your eye.

Were now the sun to shine, from every branch would
drifting snow sift snowing blessing into snow.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

The swallows have flitted a long time since.
Today, though, eddies swirled of such a wind
as makes the swallows recollect their Nile,
a vestige, hot and cruel, of summer saying
soul is what twirls and swoops in twittering
loops against a long-deserted sky.

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