Wednesday 30 December 2009

My turn - and a happy new year to you!

There are over 200 foxhunts in Britain, each hunting 2 to 4 times a week. The main season is from November until late March, although some carry on until the start of May. The hunt itself will gather in late morning, although an 'earth stopper' will have been out at dawn to block up any known fox earths, drains and badger setts, so that foxes returning from a night's foraging will be exposed above ground. The huntsman will lead the hounds to a wood or covert where there is a known earth. The hounds are sent into the wood to flush out any foxes. As all underground escape routes are blocked, the fox is forced to run to escape the hounds. Riders positioned around the wood will 'holloa' to let the huntsman know the direction the fox has run.

If the fox manages to find refuge in an un-blocked earth, the hunt employ terriermen who will put their terriers down the earth to force the fox into the open to be re-hunted, or attack the fox underground while the men dig down through the soil. Once they have dug out the fox, the terriermen are supposed to shoot it, but many will simply give it a blow with a spade. It is not unheard of for the fox to be thrown alive to the waiting hounds.

run to earth

the fox of desire
shall be flushed out with famine
but what of its mate

Hedvig Charlotta Nordenflycht (1718-1763) - Sweden's first major female poet

Concerning a hyacinth
To – – –

You wondrous plant whose match in colour,
In sheen, allure I nowhere see,
In Flora’s realm I find no other
Whose beauty so enraptures me:
Your petals Nature is suffusing,
In art, in splendour sets alight;
A subtle balsam-scent diffusing,
You bring me pleasure and delight.

My tender care shall never fail you,
You get to breathe a milder air,
No sudden squall shall e’er assail you,
No heat and cold shall you impair.
A gentle breeze shall worries banish,
And infiltrate your every pore,
And when from warmth you greatly languish
A cooling tide shall you restore.

But when at last, all blooms displaying,
You grace my hut in full allure,
The cruel law of change obeying,
You fade and die and are no more.
You soon forget my pleasant duty,
And tire of all my watchful guard,
Conceal in meagre dust your beauty,
Are you ungrateful, then, and hard?

But shall I censure this poor flower,
Accuse a being frail as she,
Whose lot’s to alter by the hour,
She has to be what she must be.
She is as grass, she has to perish,
I bear no grudge because of this.
And cold grows too a heart I cherish
It has to be the way it is.

To see the original poem go to here

Tuesday 29 December 2009

A poem from Klaus Høeck's latest collection 'Palimpsest'


what appeals to me
so much about haydn’s mus
ic is you get what

you hear – man bekommt
was man hört – the same applies
to poetry i

sincerely hope – you
get what you read for if the
words meant something else

than precisely what
is there on the page why not
write that something else?

Sunday 27 December 2009

Poems about writing poems - one by Victor Vroomkoning


The trickiest thing is keeping
them in the run. Agreed,
put them together between margins
of gauze and hope that this
will do. On their perch
as far as I’m concerned almost
interchangeable. The cock I’m sure of.

But before you can be sure they
are secure, the fox is on the prowl,
they lose their heads, fly up
in all directions. Words
in a poem that lies open.

One more from Klaus Høeck

der er intet så koldt og
beregnende som at skrive et digt

kærligheden sorgen og de
dybeste følelser alle må

de gennem sprogets vride
maskine grammatikkens kalkule

alle ordene alle må de
ned på papirets liglagen

there is nothing as cold and
calculating as writing a poem

love mourning and the
deepest emotions all of them

must pass through the wringer
of language the calculus of grammar

all the words all of them must be
committed to paper’s shroud

Saturday 26 December 2009

From 'The shores' - part of Klaus Høeck's collection 'Fairytale'

“some day you will miss me”
        my mother
        had said
and it was true she was right
        about that – but
        what she hadn’t
realised was that i had
        always missed her
even while she was alive and we
almost saw each other every week

what she hadn’t realised was
        that the greatest
        longing was the longing
for what we already possessed
        that all longings
sprang from this one longing
        which was
        only slaked
in the moment of acquisition when
longing and longing became one

and that was life’s hardest task:
        that what you have
        and are had to be
reconquered over and over each day
        and life’s greatest
        paradox: that
what you were to conquer could only
        be given to you
        in the great moment
of acquisition when you had
precisely lost it again

and all other longings were only
        lengthenings of
        this one
longing – journeys out of the mind
        towards the distant goals
        on the horizon of
the fairytale where the clouds’ castles
        hung so red
        with gold in the
evening sun – so you could return home
again to what you were and are

and that was life’s greatest fairytale
        to journey
        to the world’s end
to gain the simple insight
        that what you
        searched for you
had already found that who you
        wanted to be
        you already were
that all the time you were yourself
who else should you otherwise have been? (...)

For the whole collection in translation, go to here

Thursday 24 December 2009

Wednesday 23 December 2009

Another way of looking at Kunst der Fuge - from 'Heptameron' by Klaus Høeck


 Kunst der Fuge

This poem refers to the poem 
on the opposite page, where it 
says ‘Kunst der Fuge’ as a 
tribute to Johann Sebastian Bach 
a literal gesture. Tell me now 
if this poem has been written before 
or after the poem to which it refers. 

It cannot have been written before, 
since there is then no poem 
to which it refers. And it can 
not have been written after, since the 
poem to which it refers cannot for 
similar reasons have been written 
before this poem. What then?

In this case the answer is simple 
enough. This poem is identical with 
the poem to which it refers on the 
opposite page. They have been written simultaneously.


Kunst der Fuge

This poem refers to the poem 
on the opposite page, where it 
says ‘Kunst der Fuge’ as a 
tribute to Johann Sebastian Bach 
a literal gesture. Tell me now 
if this poem has been written before 
or after the poem to which it refers. 

It cannot have been written before, 
since there is then no poem 
to which it refers. And it can 
not have been written after, since the 
poem to which it refers cannot for 
similar reasons have been written 
before this poem. What then?

In this case the answer is simple 
enough. This poem is identical with 
the poem to which it refers on the 
opposite page. They have been written simultaneously.

Tuesday 22 December 2009

Another poem by Hester Knibbe in translation


In love all is possible. You
grimly drape a tree with roses
and say: it was on this spot and
everyone who passes by shall

know that. Or someone decides: this dead
weight can be borne no longer, I’ll place it
like a stone at the foot of the rock, but
does not walk and breathe the lighter

afterwards. The asphalt that bridges
the river points upwards, on the radio
voices sing ah and oh and on the lorry
in front of me it shamelessly states in the dirt

of days: Now that you’re no longer there
you’re closer than ever. Exactly that. Who
dared with one finger in dust to clear
the way for what’s most steadfast? Soon

the bridge will tilt, the line obediently
will start once more to move, I will pass
by the sewage sludge of Beesley Ltd and
a declaration of love written in mud.

Two stanzas from the voyage of the spaceship 'Aniara' - the title of a long poem by the Swedish poet Harry Martinson

Jag skall berätta vad jag hört om glas
och då skall ni förstå. I varje glas
som står tillräckligt länge oberört
förflyttas glasets blåsa efterhand
oändligt sakta mot en annan punkt
i glasets kropp och efter tusen år
har blåsan gjort en resa i sitt glas.

På samma sätt i en oändlig rymd
där svalg av ljusårs djup sin välvning slår
kring blåsan Aniara där hon går.
Ty fastän farten som hon gör är stor
och mycket högre än en snabb planets
är hennes hastighet med rymdmått sedd
på pricken svarande mot den vi vet
att blåsan gör i denna skål av glas. (...)

I’ll tell you what I’ve heard concerning glass
and then you’ll understand. In any glass
that has remained untouched for long enough
the bubble in the glass will by degrees
move infinitely slowly to a point
elsewhere within the glass and will complete
this journey first after a thousand years.

It’s likewise in a space that’s infinite
where light-years’ deep abyss throws up its vault
round Aniara’s bubble as she moves.
For though the speed she travels at is great
far swifter than a rapid planet’s course
in terms of space velocities it would
exactly correspond to that we know
the bubble moves at in this bowl of glass. (...)

Monday 21 December 2009

A poem by the Swedish poet Lars Gustafsson

Fernissa på en åra

Västvinden går.
Västvinden, nyfiken,
in genom öppna fönstret
och bläddrar i uppslagen bok.
Som alltså läser sig själv.
Fernissan på åran
torkar snabbare nu
och minst en fluga
blir alltid kvar
i den hårdnande, klara massan.
Liksom en fråga
utifrån den kristallklara tomma och
nattliga rymden.
Och boken läser sig själv
inte utan eftertanke.

Varnish on an oar

The west wind blows.
The west wind, curious,
in through the open window
and leaves through an opened book.
Which thus reads itself.
The varnish on the oar
dries more quickly now
and at least one fly
is always left there
in the hardening, clear substance.
Like a question from outside,
from crystal-clear, empty and
nocturnal space.
And the book reads itself
not without reflection.

Sunday 20 December 2009

Four poems from Klaus Høeck's Heptameron


First Sunday in Advent.
        It is
        not the
events that are called
        miracles that
        are so hard
to grasp. More that
        i have to
        create them
myself each time by
        transforming the
        events into
miracles by virtue of my belief.


Second Sunday in Advent.
        It is smoking
        from winter’s
crystal. My words freeze
        solid to
        the paper
like the tongue to iron, like
        the soul to
        its body.
Can the heat from two paraffin
        wax candles
        separate them again.
Or the heart’s secret fire?


Fourth Sunday in Advent.
        The clouds look
        like boiling
lead; tracks dark with snow.
        But then the
        light of creation
is also black deep down
        within because
        this act
calls for so much light that
        everything else
        darkens slightly,
when a human child is born.


Christ’s birthday. I do not
        go to church.
instead a reproduction of
‘Christmas Night’. I don’t know
        much about births;
        only about the
spiritual (they hurt). But the
        sky is as
        red as the
glossy paper from my own childhood.

For all of Heptameron (383 pages!) go to this website

Saturday 19 December 2009

A poem by the Dutch poet Rutger Kopland

Die Kunst der Fuge


So do thoughts roam, in their roaming repeating
like mountain-meadow streams, always somehow different,

always somehow the same, all of them longing
for something, a somewhere, elsewhere a memory

searching towards. And their longing is only
the force of water, their memory only

banks of rivers, somewhere, elsewhere they are the sea.


The space of a wood of tall beeches in winter,
from whose tops there is falling, again and again,

repeating this movement from this once to later,
as long as that falling continues, leaf after leaf after

Their memory is only this space, and only
this falling their longing, this merging amongst

all the others, this unretrievably being all over.


The swarms of birds above the valley, the fleeting
moments of belonging together and falling apart.

all that repeating, where there is searching for that
one movement where memory and longing

disappear into each other, the finding of those moments,
and the losing. What binds them and drives them apart

are the cold, wind, grey roofs in the depths.


And high in the rare winter air footprints in the snow,
a man and a woman who came this way, here

- prints were the only thing left of them, a pair of tracks
thin, twining tracks on the roam, memory

and longing, both of them, but of what and to where -
here where we are, only us, and the snow,

snow where no print has been set.


There is roaming, merging, falling apart, disappearing
and all this repeated, as if time and again there is something

that has to be sought, found, lost, sought,
as if time and again something must, must be something

before disappearing and after.

Friday 18 December 2009

From 'Heron Heights' by the Norwegian poet Thor Sørheim


Da det store treet falt
slo lufta mellom greinene knallhardt
til begge sider, bladene gikk i spinn
og lauvsangerne svirret i tomrommet
uten feste. I fallet virket treet

mer skremmende enn selve
stormen, vi ante ikke hvilke krefter
vi hadde i vår egen hage før tørkestativet
av jern knelte som et kornaks
under stammen. Lamslåtte så vi

horisonten rase inn i synsfeltet
som en skogkledd planet vi aldri
tidligere hadde observert så nær huset,
og kollisjonen hadde vært uunngåelig
om det ikke hadde vært for lyskilen
som lynkjapt smatt imellom.


When the big tree fell
the air thwacked out between the branches
to both sides, the leaves went into a spin
and the willow warblers whirred in the empty space
without a hold. In falling the tree seemed

more frightening than the actual
gale, we had no idea what forces
we had in our own garden before the iron
clothes dryer bent at the knee like an ear of corn
under the trunk. Thunderstruck we saw

the horizon tearing into vision
like a wooded planet we had never
previously observed so close to the house,
and the collision would have been inevitable
had it not been for the wedge of light
that slipped through quick as lightning.

An advent poem by Jean-Pierre Rawie


In deze laatste week van de advent
zou het moeten gaan sneeuwen: ieder jaar
zijn het dezelfde dingen waar je naar
verlangt. Dus sneeuwt het niet; maar alles went.

Je steekt de kaarsen aan op het dressoir,
en denkt aan alle doden die je kent.
Terwijl je wacht op een gemist moment
schuiven de dagen naadloos in elkaar.

Je poogt je tegen beter weten in
iets te herinneren wat er niet was,
omdat wat weg is diepte heeft en zin.

Je draait muziek, drinkt thee, je leest en boek
dat je ook lang geleden al eens las.
Maar alles is onachterhaalbaar zoek.


In what is now the final advent week
it ought soon to be snowing: every year
the same old things are what you’d like appear
the most. No snow then - old hat, so to speak.

You light the sideboard candles once again,
and think of all you know who’re now deceased.
You’re waiting for some moment that’s been missed
while each day slots into a seamless chain.

Against your better judgment you would chance
to call to mind again what was not there,
since what is gone has depth, significance.

You put on music, drink tea, read a book
that you’ve already read long since, somewhere.
But it’s all gone for good, slipped off the hook.

Thursday 17 December 2009

Another Hester Knibbe translation

Light years

It’s a marvellous world, you said,
with those trees, marshes, deserts,
grasses, rivers and oceans and

so forth. And the moon’s all right too
with its more or less
soft-gleaming sheen and motion. Include

besides the wingèd M, voluptuous
Venus, hot-headed Mars, dead-lucky
J and that sour-puss Saturn of course plus

U and N and far-roamer P, in short the whole
solar family complete with its
milky way and then add on all those other

systems with specks and spots and in
that infinite void it’s a commotion of
well you know. It’s a magnificent

universe, you said, just take a good look
through the ready-made glasses of the dark
at a desert for instance or on your back

in oceans of grass, just take a good look
at that rorschach violence, that’s where we’re
standing somewhere, together.

Wednesday 16 December 2009

Jellema again - in Dutch, Danish and English


Plat op de rug zijn lange lepeloren,
gedoken in de vore lag de haas,
en ik, terwijl ik naderbij kwam, deed,
mijn taak van drijver dus verzakend, of
hij niet gezien werd, niet zijn ogen puilend
van angst, blikloos alsof niet mij hij waarnam,
niet achter mij de wijde vrijheid, maar
een niets in zich, een gat waar hij voor lag,
te diep, te breed om nog te durven springen.
Toen, met een stap van mij aan hem voorbij,
in een seconde was hij weg - me wendend
(verwensing uit de slootwal, doch geen schot)
zag ik hem rennend naar de horizon,
al haast een stip op wit bevroren klei.

Hoe zal zijn einde zijn geweest? In wijn
gestoofd, onder een auto of gewoon
van ouderdom tussen de koude voren -
wanneer in 't voorjaar op het veld voor huis
de hazen buitelen, denk ik aan hem:
hoe angst een plotselinge kracht kan zijn
die je bevrijdt tot in je kloppend hart.
Misschien zal, als het gat dat groeit in mij
te diep, te breed wordt om te kunnen springen,
bij god, een haas mijn voorspraak zijn (want ook
een dier dat angst kent heeft een ziel die wordt
verlost), al was het maar doordat die morgen
mij heugt, die ene stap, en dat instinct
waarmee bestaan zich redt op eigen kracht.


De lange skeører fladt ned langs ryggen,
sammenkrøben i furen lå haren,
og jeg, imens jeg trådte nærmere,
svigtende min klapperpligt, lod
som om den ikke var set, ikke dens angst-
sprængte øjne, tomme som om ikke jeg,
ikke den store frihed bag mig fandtes, men
et intet, et hul der lå foran den,
for dybt, for bredt til at vove springet.
Så, med et skridt fra mig forbi den,
på et sekund var den borte – da jeg vendte mig om
(til eder fra diget, men intet skud)
så jeg den pilende mod horisonten,
en lillebitte prik nu mod rimfrosset ler.

Hvordan blev mon dens endeligt? Grydestegt
i vin, under en bil eller helt almindeligt
af alderdom mellem de kolde furer –
Hver gang harerne om foråret slår kolbøtter
foran mit hus, tænker jeg på den:
at angst kan være en pludselig kraft
der frigør dig indtil dit bankende hjerte.
Kan det tænkes, hvis det hul der gror i mig
bliver alt for dybt, for bredt for at kunne overspringes,
en hare foran gud vil tale min sag (for selv
et dyr der kender angst har også en sjæl der
kan frelses), og var det kun fordi jeg husker
denne morgen, dette skridt, og det instinkt
med hvilket livet redder sig af egen kraft.


Long spoonlike ears against his back full-flattened,
huddled deep in the furrow lay the hare,
and I, as I drew nearer, pretended,
forsaking my task as a beater, not
to have caught sight of him, not his eyes bulging
with fear, void as if not perceiving me,
not behind me unbounded freedom, but
an inner nothing, a hole at his feet,
too deep, too wide to dare to think of leaping.
Then, as I made the step that took me past him
in a split second he was gone – and turning
(to cursings from the ditchside, though no shot)
I saw him make his dash for the horizon,
a mere dot now on white hard-frozen clay.

How did he meet his end I wonder. Braised
in wine, run over by a car perhaps
or simply from old age among cold furrows –
when in spring in the field outside the house
the hares romp and tumble, I think of him:
how fear can sometimes be a sudden force
that sets you free down to your pounding heart.
It could be, if the hole that grows in me
becomes too deep, too wide for any leaping,
a hare will plead my case with god (for
an animal that knows fear has a soul, too,
that is saved), if only since I remember
that morning, that one step and that instinct
with which life saves itself by its own force.

Johannes V. Jensen - time for this poem!

Solstice song

Our sun has now grown cold,
we are in winter’s hold
the days are waning.
        Now, past the deepest night,
        our hope burns bright –
        yes, hope burns bright,
        for now the sun will right,
now light will soon return, the days again are gaining.

The lovely fir tree green
betokens summer’s screen
of woods imposing.
        In Christmas candlelight
        like star-hosts bright,
        yes, star-hosts bright,
        sun’s wonder is in sight
and all the yellow flower-suns that now are dozing.

The fir-tree’s charry scent
gives air to summers spent
and each newcomer.
        Cool Danish years all swing,
        dance in a ring,
        yes, in a ring
        round an eternal spring.
Let all souls also sing of Denmark’s lovely summer!

Tuesday 15 December 2009

Jellema in Dutch, English and Danish - Zeegezicht


Op de palm van jouw hand, in dat landschap
van gevormde levenslijnen, niet groter
dan een flinke waterdruppel

– terwijl zonsondergang de hele
hemel boven de eindstreep van het eiland
ginds in Turner-kleuren zet –

die babykrab, voorzichtig
van tussen de basaltblokken geraapt,
zijn onderkomen waar hij wachtte op de vloed.

Nog kleiner dan de nagel van jouw pink,
zijn grijsblauw pantsertje nog niet verkalkt,
krabbelt hij zijwaarts over plooi en heuvel,
een onbekende wereld, verontrust
dat bodem warmte geeft.

Dan, op de rand van dat heelal,
laat hij zich zonder aarzeling terugvallen in
de veiligheid van spleten, zeezand, steen,
met achterlating van een beeld, van
haast een naam.

Nu is het of wij, samen onder aan de dijk,
worden gezien, terwijl het water stijgt
en in doorschijning spiegelt hoe de hemel kleurt.

Heeft iemand iets gezegd? Nee, niemand sprak.


In the palm of your hand, in that landscape
of shaped life-lines, no larger
than a good-sized drop of water –

while sunset colours all the
sky above the island finish line
out there in Turner shades –

that baby crab, carefully eased
from between the blocks of basalt,
its shelter where it waited for the tide.

Still smaller than your little finger’s nail,
its grey-blue armour not yet calcified,
it scrambles sideways over folds and hillocks,
an unfamiliar world, alarmed
at ground that gives off warmth.

Then, on the rim of that universe and with no
hesitation it lets itself fall back into
the safe terrain of fissures, sea sand, stones,
leaving behind an image,
almost a name.

It seems as if, down by the dike together,
we now are seen, while evening waters rise
and, in translucence, mirror the suffusing sky.

Did someone say something. No, nobody spoke.


I din håndflade, i dette landskab
af formede livslinier, ikke større
end en pæn dråbe vand

– mens solnedgangen farvesætter
hele himlen over øens målstreg
derovre med Turner-nuancer –

denne babykrabbe, forsigtigt
samlet op mellem basaltblokkene,
dens husly hvor den ventede på tidevandet.

Endnu mindre end din lillefingernegl,
dens gråblå lille rygskjold endnu ikke blevet til kalk,
kravler den sidelæns over fold og bakke,
en ukendt verden, ængstelig
ved et underlag der afgiver varme.

Så, på kanten af dette univers, lader den
sig uden tøven falde tilbage i
trygheden af sprækker, havsand, sten,
og efterlader kun et billede,
næppe et navn.

Nu er det som om vi, sammen nede ved diget,
bliver set, mens vandet stiger
og spejler gennemsigtigt himlens farveskift.

Sagde nogen noget? Nej, ingen talte.