Monday, 6 December 2010

Poem written by the Dutch poet Hans Tentije about a painting by Rembrandt

ON VLOOYENBURG


















Rembrandt van Rijn – Portrait of Dr. Ephraim Bueno


‘So much has remained unwritten, so much too
that is impossible to describe because it stays
hidden to everyone for ever,’ he thinks
having shut the outer door behind him and placed
his one foot on the bottom step

in the shrouded ground-floor flat
he feels how his heart skips a beat and the blood
drains from his cheeks, catching
his breath for that one moment

just then there was, with the glittering brocades of sky
above the Leprozengracht, the loveliest part
of Vlooyenburg surely, his island in the Amstel, as never
so sharply before the feeling of being
both stranger and resident –

the cuff round the wrist of his hand
with which he grips the banisters and the collar
a flecked white, the darkness almost
swallows up the black of his top hat

still he stays motionless, his gentle, melancholy
eyes glisten as those of one who’s seen all the
pain and all sorrow of the world but nonetheless
is fond of life and gains consolation from
the ancient scriptures, from the psalms –

‘…light, yes, would dying seem to me if I knew
myself to be immortal…’

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