Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Dèr Mouw - unpublished poem

Je lijkt op iemand, en ’k weet niet, op wie.
Wel weet ik dat ik niet voor ’t eerst je zie.
Eerst dacht ik: lijkt ze niet op ’t meisje, dat
toen ’k jongen was, ik ’t eerst heb liefgehad?
Maar ’k weet nog goed, hoe ’k toen verwonderd keek
naar haar gezicht, op wie ze eigenlijk leek.

You look like someone, and I don’t know who.
And yet it’s not the first time I see you.
I first thought: doesn’t she remind me of
the girl with whom when young I fell in love?
I still recall though, gazing at her face,
wondering who it was she had replaced.

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Poem by the Dutch writer Bernlef


Mijn moeder zit aanvallig in de tuin
voor haar voeten de opwindgrammofoon
met van dat paarse vilt van binnen
mijn sporen zijn nog niet gezaaid

Zomerbladeren blikkeren in de hoorn
en uit een foto klinkt vervlogen
de muziek van toen, een Gershwin-tune
nu evergreen geheten

Haar blote armen in het gras
het lijkt voor altijd zomer
His Master’s Voice beheerst de tuin
tot in de takken van de bomen

Golden delicious hangen ze daar
zwaar en volmaakt als de muziek
waarnaar ze luistert met gesloten ogen
vol overgave en met heel haar lijf

Een middag in de tuin zo rond en
zo volkomen dat er geen vader
door kan dringen, geen kind erin
de weg vindt naar zijn naam.


My mother makes a picture on the lawn
at her feet the wind-up gramophone
lined with that mauvish purple felt
no spores of me have yet been sown

Summer leaves are glinting in the horn
and from a photo comes the sound
of bygone music, a Gershwin tune
now called an evergreen

Her arms uncovered in the grass
it seems an endless summer
His Master’s Voice in full command
to the trees’ outermost branches.

Clusters of golden delicious hang
heavy and perfect as the music
to which she’s listening with shuttered eyes
and utter physical abandon

A garden afternoon so round and
consummate no father ever
will gain entry, no child there find
the path toward its name.

Poem by the Danish writer Peter Laugesen

What I want to write about

WHAT I want to write about
is small things to such an extent
that there aren’t any words for it
only exist for things that are so big
that they don’t mean anything
Those on the other hand there are plenty of
But the small things what are they called
and how can I express them
It’s not nature I’m talking about
but our life
as it is
Nature is itself writing it can be read
The weather can be read
like a poem
It is not prose it is rhythm
the almanack narrates
It is poetry
But it’s not that I want to write about
It’s the small things
there aren’t any words for
or that all words are for since all words come
from small things from
them once having been big and
from everything turning opposite
that we grow smaller
The plan is for the umpteenth time
for me to combine all of it into ONE
LONG POEM for that’s what after all it
and not to separate it out
As long as it takes place it is like that but until now
it’s always fallen apart more and more
into some other typography
and it may well be
that’ll happen again
But you are to know that that’s not how it is
and it says all sorts of things
in its own way
which is not different
and can’t be so
I don’t want to be intoxicated any more
or prevent anyone from anything
just be the person I am when I’m not influenced by anything else
than all that I once like everyone else then at that age
believed was death itself that sad bourgeois boredom
I now know that’s a lie and it was also a lie then
I now know there’s no way round
living one’s life
I’ve learnt from the old ones
as they are in my self
I have discovered them
there where they’re hiding
in thoughts there where they’re sitting
waiting for someone to hear
what they’re whispering inside beneath the scream
I have found them and listened to them
both the one and the other
and far from all of them
There are lots more in me
many I haven’t met yet
because I’ve looked the other way
and called it forwards
but they’re there
All of a sudden they’re sitting inside me writing
and I don’t know who they are
because they’re me and I don’t know who I myself am
They are a tired and yawning Good Friday
and the weather’s changing wildly here on the edge of the valley
I am everyone and none of them
know who I am and I don’t know myself
It’s like coming out on the other side with something intact
that despite everything hasn’t been smashed to pieces
And without words
and with far too many words
for nothing
and everything
Magazines newspapers periodicals books Easter again
Time says boo! and two unknown researchers have made fusion
with a school chemistry set
in a glass of salt water
Scepticism among the clever that would upset everything for Iran
and Norway
And natural gas pump it back into the earth again the balloon
is limp
Blackbirds on the lawn
The clouds are drifting and you look up through the holes between them
you can see
the eyes of the small meteorological cameras in the sky-blue depths
the small eyes in the cells the fight of the white blood corpuscles
in the wounds
the power plant of the lungs and pipelines of the heart station
The small things
for language
All the words that fall out it’s them now
that do not reach the door and
them that are kicked out with their head
in the silver cord
And somewhere else entirely they collect a new language for themselves
that is the expelled thing itself
that is the satan of the myth
falling in space like Michelangelo’s figures on the ceiling
where the light-rays of the street lamp pass through the open door
at night
and thoughts constantly circle round the sore point
where the body right now is being assembled
The rain begins
Use the images of the body
the wind at the window
the curtain and the papers on the wall
The skin
It’s not a question of evil or good
or beautiful and ugly
Write through
like the small devils in the blood and the doctors’ forceps and swab
Fly on rhetorical wind
It won’t come any nearer
What’s done is past the undone future
It’s not names but words
Open doors
Spacious time
Timely space
in the pictures of the body when they become words and the words of the body when they become pictures.

Monday, 29 October 2012



O koud is die windjie
            en skraal.
En blink in die dof-lig
            en kaal,
so wyd as die Heer se genade,
lê die velde in sterlig en skade.
            En hoog in die rande,
            versprei in die brande,
is die grassaad aan roere
            soos winkende hande.

O treurig die wysie
            op die ooswind se maat,
soos die lied van ’n meisie
in haar liefde verlaat.
In elk grashalm se vou
blink ’n druppel van dou,
en vinnig verbleik dit
            tot ryp in die kou!


So cold now the wind is
            and spare.
And bleak in the dim light
            and bare,
as wide as God’s mercy is boundless,
the scorched veldt lies starlit and soundless.
            And on the high lands
            through burnt soil lone strands
of seed-grass are stirring
            like beckoning hands.

So sad now the song is
            on the east wind full-borne,
like a girl’s song of longing
when love is forlorn.
In the fold of each blade
a clear dewdrop is made
that swiftly the cold turns
            to rime as it fades!

Poem by the Dutch writer
René Huigen

The Zeppelin or Rosendahl bend

Totally uninterested
in the extremities that it combines,
in bridges that it builds and roundabout
gestures, the beauty
of an ideal knot can be seen
from the ease with which it can
be tied and also be undone,
despite the enormous force of the pull
exerted on it – at which it displays
a detached involvement

It is strong and reliable, shockproof,
and perfectly symmetrical, as subtle as the pattern
depicted on the back of a butterfly

Powerful enough to lift climbers
onto mountain summits

A unique ornament round the neck
of everyone hanged
man or woman, guilty
or innocent – it knows itself in everything

To be an example simply demonstrated
even to children

Whether involving patent leathers
with loose laces that trip you up

Or something as fleeting
as a dream, filled with helium,
a sloop at its mooring, ready
to embark

No sky ever reaches high enough
to need to fall still deeper,

But maintains precisely motionless, fixedly the midpoint
so as to offer what by nature wants to drift
something to hold on to

Poem by the Dutch writer
C.O. Jellema


Do lovers ask themselves: our love, will it
add anything to love? –  so does

the fruit of a womb maintain the
doggedness of dying –

Something dreams itself lost within us,
something wants it random, something
survives it, just as

above night’s newly fallen snow
melting in the midday sun

that cloud of
dancing midges –

a mere image, lighter
than body is ever.

Poem by the Danish writer
Henrik Nordbrandt

China observed through Greek rain in café turque

the drizzle
falls into my coffee
until it is cold
and overflows
until it overflows
and becomes clear
so that the picture on the bottom
becomes visible.

the picture of a man
with a long beard
in China, in front of a Chinese pavilion
in the rain, pouring rain
which has stiffened
into streaks
over the windswept facade
and over the man’s face.

beneath the coffee, milk and sugar
which are separating
beneath the well-worn glaze
appear eyes, extinguished
or inward-looking
towards China, in the cup’s porcelain
the cup slowly being emptied of coffee
and being filled with rain
clear rain. the spring rain

is atomised against the shed roof of the taverna
the facades on the other side of the street
are like a large
very worn wall of porcelain
whose gleam lights up the vine leaves
the vine leaves that are also worn
like the inside of a cup. the chinaman

sees the sun appear through a green leaf
that has fallen into the cup.

the cup whose contents
are now completely clear.

Sunday, 28 October 2012

Poem by the Danish writer
Jens August Schade (1903-78)

At the Café

A good song,
a crazy small miracle
comes from the gramophone
while I stay silent.
And to everyone’s amazement
I push back my chair
and stay sitting in the air.

In front of me sits a girl
with ugly teeth
and flighty eyes.
She stays silent.
- Both of us know
what’s going in inside the other,
and strong as lions our souls kiss.

She rises into the air,
and I do too,
we find each other
there above the tables.
And to roars and applause
at the miracle of the song
we intertwine
and roundabout out of the café.

Saturday, 27 October 2012

Another classic from Grundtvig

A simple, cheerful active life on earth

A simple, cheerful, active life on earth,
A cup I’d not exchange for monarch’s chalice,
In noble forebears’ tracks a path since birth,
With equal dignity in hut and palace,
With eye as when created heav’nward turned,
All beauty here and grandness keenly knowing,
Familiar though with those things deeply yearned,
Stilled only by eternity’s bright glowing.

I wished for all my line just such a life,
And zealously I planned for its fruition,
And when my soul grew tired from toil and strife,
The ‘Lord’s Prayer’ was its rest and its nutrition.
Then from truth’s spirit I great comfort gained,
And felt joy hover o’er each garden border,
When dust is placed in its creator’s hand
And all is waited for in nature’s order:

Just fresh, green buds that sprout in early spring,
And in the summer heat the flowers’ profusion;
And when the plants mature and long to bring
Their harvest fruit to autumn’s full conclusion!
The human span assigned is short or long,
It is for common weal, its yield is growing;
The day that started well will end as strong,
And just as sweet will be its afterglowing.

Friday, 26 October 2012


Having problems with formatting, possibly because of old computer system.
This post is to try and clear things by acting as a buffer.

Poem by the Danish writer
Ludvig Holstein

We sons of the plains 

We sons of the plains all have minds full of dreams,
That turn into songs when they waken,
They rise from the summer-night mists’ tangled seams
Like larks which now skywards have taken.
From yearning burst open one fine April day
As crocus and hyacinth flowering,
Like springtime sun’s smile whose victorious ray
Melts winter’s last ice with its showering.

Then off they set sail o’er the sweet-scented land,
Where spring seeds through dark soil are teeming,
And joyfully greet past the woods’ dark-green band
The streak of the fjord brightly gleaming
And quiver in springtime’s glad whistling and song
That trill now from grove and from garden
And boldly steal joys in advance which ere long
sweet secretive lips might well pardon.

And sink down midst flowers that in may-night’s embrace
on hillside and branch are now breaking,
and whisper their love’s name while dew grows apace,
my sweet only one, unforsaking.
As yet it’s not morning, though neither is night,
one’s thoughts on stray paths mists are taking,
a heart loudly pounds, and in scrub out of sight
the nightingale’s song is still quaking.

Sir Olav’s horse over the elf-bridge it trod,
in midsummer night’s white abiding,
then stumbled his steed with gold shoes finely shod.
– Sir Olav, where would you be riding?
Where would you be riding ere daybreak is here,
and where were you carried and born, sir?
And whose breast did feed you, and who held you dear,
and who made your coat newly worn, sir?

Oh, magic in summer-night mists’ tangled seams!
Oh, memories magic and tempting!
We sons of the plains all have minds full of dreams, 
and yet do not know when they’re breaking.
They lie there and wait for the moment of birth
to turn into songs are they yearning,
as larks in the clover fields’ grass-tufted earth,
ere dawn meadow’s colours is turning.