The people in the streets looked stricken,
their ashen faces drawn and tight, –
then something made their features quicken
and, listening, they seemed brushed with light.
For in the clock-tower when, resounding,
the bronze-chimed hour had died away,
the carilloneur began his pounding
and everywhere was heard to play.
Valerius: – a solemn singing
with bass bell’s tolling undertone
and flickerings of lighter ringing:
‘We raise our eyes to Thy high throne.’
As one of all those nameless people
who by the house fronts came to stand,
I listened to the pealing steeple
that sang of my afflicted land.
This speechless gathering, beyond us
the city with Dutch light above –
I’ve never for what’s stolen from us
felt such a bitter, bitter love.
War year 1941
For my own workshop process on this translation, go to here