Friday, 2 July 2010

Poem by the Dutch writer Willem Jan Otten



His garden philosopher he called me,
but I was toothless and intrigued him
by being doting and untravelled.

I saw that something scared him,
hard to know precisely what, oh nonsense,
he said, and then I just let slip:

you fear the first of January.
What do you mean, he softly asked.
Eternal one, I said, a chance remark,

I spin on my own axis, while you move.


For a great conqueror time is
the forward downward thing,
the deep-descending chute where all

the realm collapses in a ceaseless fall.
Iskander was so right. Time only moves
in one direction. Shall. Shall.

But by the never-ending Royal Road,
at every hamlet’s edge there always stands,
just like a bar line in a music stave,

a mumbling philosopher like me, who waves
and tells Iskander: Your journey, that is me,
and I’ve a memory that’s pitiful,

not even you will I take to my grave.


There’s no direction and no downward path,
were there no toothless poet to be passed,
eternity is where the conqueror

without contrivance loses all his wits,
it’s just a flash, and then the sideways step,
the Mighty Will stills all his legions

and wipes the dotard drivel off my skin.

No comments: