Sunday 12 February 2012

A famous poem by the Dutch writer Martinus Nijhoff


I went to Bommel just to see the bridge.
I saw the new bridge. Two opposing shores
that shunned each other seemingly before
are neighbours once again. A grassy verge
I lay on, tea consumed, for some ten minutes
my head filled with the landscape far and wide –
when from that endlessness on every side
this voice came, and my ears resounded with it.

It was a woman. And the boat she steered
was passing downstream through the bridge quite slowly.
She stood there at the helm, alone on deck,

and what she sang were hymns, I now could hear.
Oh, I thought, oh, were mother there instead.
Praise God she sang, His hand shall safely hold thee.

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