Sunday 9 October 2011

Two poems by the Dutch writer
Dèr Mouw


In merest scrap of ocean, greenish, dim,
the creature drifts, transparent, like some ghost;
through wall of glass the human spirit, lost
to itself, takes the enormous wonder in,

how, flimsy with translucence, the small soul
that burns within each organ without trace,
now makes the slight wing, fine as woven lace,
of the alien glass bird beat with wavelike roll.

So drifts my verse in me, a part of God;
and something that both rhyme and reason mocks
hides in ingenious translucency;

and he who reads this, for one moment, feels
quivering, beyond his I’s constraining shield,
the mystery of his eternity.


Dull mauve and purple-grey the western skies.
I’m walking still through frost-encrusted grass,
and hear on the canal close by the harsh
thin scrape of skates on hollow-tinkling ice:

and on the frozen glass it feels as though,
circling, floating, swerving with artful skill,
bent from the waist, I rise and fall at will:
my back feels as if skating made it flow.

I hope who thus can feel my verses glide –
alone, in pairs, or rows that stretch out wide,
rolling on pulse and rhyme of prime Dutch steel –

that he the wind that bore me can hear playing,
and in my words the marvellous broad swaying
and sliding of his spirits too may feel.

A quite extraordinary poet! The crunching of the lines is even more pronounced in the original.

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