Saturday 5 December 2009

Gerrit Komrij - Venezia

 My favourite section from the collection is this:



Verse can be pulled on like a pair of pants:
Tight, loose, to size, to suit your mood the while.
There are for each imaginable stance
Yet other pants. (Priest’s garb is unistyle.)

When reckless - jazzy coloureds are your pick.
A thin stripe - when capricious - lends you flair.
Though white for whims or daring’s also slick.
A poet cuts a figure everywhere.

He can, if death his poet’s heart sore squeezes,
Compose a solemn hymn on Edam cheeses,
Though also wildly weep in his distress.

Or he forgets the pain. The cheese, no less.
Makes fun of it, as through the nets he eases.
He shrugs it off, is free once more from stress.


Let’s say you want to write a poem about an
Egg, you would let that egg, with quite astounding,
Sounding magic, float through woods to outer
Reaches, where you’d let it - like a confounding,

Egg-shaped pumping-engine - dip and soar!
You’d alternate egg-colour in confusion -
Now blue, now yellow. Or: on its shell-floor
You’d paint great marguerites in wild profusion.

The egg would wax and wane, the poet can
Do all - for him it’s just a piece of cake
To make uneggy what as egg began.

A sickly man, a fan-shaped host of spikes.
And then a cookie, or a lady’s bike.
No real verse, though - unless the egg should break.


It breaks. The yolk’s no joke - what does the poet?
He festoons frills and garlands round his person,
Like some decked maypole. Lovelier still - to show it
He sarabandes and does his samba version.

He plays for monarch and he plays for beggar.
The flowers sway with him, birds explode in flashes
Above his head, the reddish sun glows redder.
He finds a way to flaunt a feast of fashions.

At night he plays for bailiff and for debtor.
He plays for this and that - the ranting male.
His eyes turn red as cherry-stones - uncanny -

And he’s now warbling like a nightingale.
He thinks of everything, the yolk excepted,
And, tired from dancing, parks on it his fanny.


What do you do, with egg-stain on your bum?
You feel so sticky, look a little glum.
And mum’s the word. For if no stain had come
To grace your arse, it would have been such fun.

Why did the egg not vanish in a trice?
Why such a cinch to make a lady’s bike?
Wasn’t it too a fan-shaped host of spikes?
And now there’s this adornment on your bike.

You still feel, in your pants with yellow pickings,
Now only fancied by some rangy chickens,
Just what a silly idiot you have been.

You’d best give up your antics - what a curse!
You’d better take your pants off, Harlequin,
And in the buff in future write your verse.

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