Wednesday, 27 June 2018

'The first time that I saw you' - Sjöberg


The first time...

The first time that I saw you it was a summer’s day
one morning when the sun was shining bright,
and all the meadow’s flowers, so varied in display,
in pairs stood bowing in its warming light.
So gentle was the morning breeze, and at the shore but slightly
a loving wavelet rippled round a shell the sand held tightly.
The first time that I saw you it was a summer’s day
the first time that I held your hand so lightly.

The first time that I saw you the sky was all ablaze,
so dazzling as the finely feathered swan.
There came then from the forest, the green-fringed forest’s haze,
a chorusing of birds in joyful song.
There trilled a song from high above whose beauty none could equal,
it was the tiny grey-fledged lark, as hard to glimpse as gleeful.
The first time that I saw you, the sky was all ablaze,
so dazzling and intense though without sequel.

And therefore when I see you, though it be winter’s day,
with snowdrifts lying glittering and cold,
I still hear larks’ quick trilling, the summer winds that stray
and spring’s keen urge to even so unfold.
I still sense that from downy beds green plants would be advancing
with cornflower and with cloverleaf all lovers’ joy enhancing,
that rays of summer sunshine upon your features play,
which softly blush in radiance entrancing.

Thursday, 21 June 2018

A Monet in words! Dèr Mouw on sun-specks on water that produce a bed of flowers

(flower party)

Lively flowerbed on the canal’s still blue,
the sun-specks, vivid and frolicsome, flicker,
now sudden irises, dressed in gold knickers,
now up-flipped arrowheads, golden in hue:

they’re conjured from sight, fast-darting and zipping
from top to ripple-top; when they’re at play,
you once glimpse them, snake-like, a twining ray,
glinting and greasy, between two waves slipping.

A hostile, grey-bristling, shuddering blot
bounds forward with shadow-beak grimly squat
to disturb the frenziedly sparkling floor:

dull-silver harebells all bob there afloat,
a golden rain drifts on blue-crystal moat;
and the flowerbed dances, noiseless once more.


One of Gerrit Komrij's '52 Sonnetten (bij het Verglijden van de Eeuw)'

The cleaning lady speaks

My deadly enemies are dust and fluff.
I am the scourge of cobwebs great and small.
Just watch me turn out, empty, clean and buff -
I won’t put up with any wisps at all.

A house that’s quite in order, spick and span,
Means life can always have a new beginning.
My boss calls me - he’s never wrong, that man -
‘The Mondriaan of hearth and table linen.’

His fine arm chairs were never to my liking.
His standard lamp has now become strip lighting.
I’m a broom artist when all’s said and done.

I let the junk man have his bed - along
With thick and down-filled duvets. He’s quite sure
To dream both sound and sweet upon the floor.


Wednesday, 20 June 2018

Komrij, a Dèr Mouw fan, could turn a pretty sonnet himself

the language-forger

Language’s consonants and vowels portray
The corset and the flaccid belly’s spread.
A poet’s one who’s able to display
An ease when boning them that seems inbred.

Obese or slim, his words without delay
Unite, in fluid couplets sweetly wed.
His secret’s effortlessness, not to lay
A smoke screen. He takes language off to bed.

His flask of wine is language – A to Z.
And when half-drunk – albeit just in play –
He spawns a child, an epic or quartet,
Or something in-between – a sonnet, say.

His fight with blubber, though, and whalebone stay
The reader never knows is left unsaid.



Tuesday, 19 June 2018

'Linguistic fireworks' in this Dèr Mouw poem too


Niets kan het Brahman eren, niets hem smaden,
dan Brahmans eigen lof en eigen spot:
geen spot, geen lof dan voor wat, wijze en zot,
het Brahman speelt in wereldmaskeraden:

hij, kunst’naar in natuur en menschendaden,
is kanker hier, trapt ginds zijn hoogst gebod,
en leeft de humor van almacht’ge God,
die, Christus, zich door Judas heeft verraden.

Hij, liefde en zomer van vluchtige wereld,
vlindert en pauwt en nachtegaalt en merelt
majeur van klank- en kleurenrijke scherts:

hij, leed en herfst, in de eindigheid gevangen
van schijnbaar zelf, schreit ’t onvervuld verlangen
tot wereldpathétique in kleine terts.


Nothing honours Brahman, nor him degrades,
than Brahman’s own defaming and his praise:
no praise nor mocking, than for roles he plays,
wise man and fool, in earthly masquerades:

artist in nature, in man’s acts portrayed,
he’s here a cancer, rules there by a nod,
and lives the humour of Almighty God
who – Christ – through Judas had himself betrayed.

He – love and summer of world’s shifts – regales,
butterflies, peacocks, blackbirds, nightingales
in major-sounding coloured raillery:

he – pain and autumn – in such shifts pinned low
by each apparent self, shrieks longing’s woe
to worldly pathétique in minor key.

Friday, 15 June 2018

The only poem ever to start with 'Spitsbogend'. Dèr Mouw of course!

Spitsbogend zetten kerkhofpopulieren
op zilvren voorjaarslucht hun diagrammen:
als ordinaten staan loodrecht de stammen,
waarom de lijnenfantazieën zwieren.

Ze staan als geel getong van ijle vlammen:
’t is of dood-zelf het Pinksterfeest wou vieren;
ze staan als lang orkest van reuz’ge lieren:
’t is of dood preludeerde in vlucht van gammen;

ze staan als sprok’ge groei van gouden veren,
uit dons van groen rijzend de grijze schachten:

’t is of, Phoenix, met nieuw ontvlamde krachten
het leven uit de dood terug wou keren.

Op eens – geruis, geruis. – Ik sta te wachten,
of ’t kerkhof vliegen gaat naar zonnesferen.


The churchyard poplars, gothic-arching, form
spring diagrams against the silver sky:
as ordinates the trunks, erect, stand high
and round them lines of fantasies all swarm.

They stand like yellow tongues of thin flame-trails:                            
it’s as if death itself’s observing Whitsun;
they stand, a giant-lyre orchestra now risen:
as if death were preluding flights of scales;

they stand like sheerest gauze of golden feathers
their green-down shafts of grey far upwards soar:

it’s as if Phoenix, flaring strength rewon,
would have life to return from death once more.

All at once – rustling – and I wonder whether
the churchyard’s flying off to realms of sun.