Monday, 31 December 2012

Poem by the Dutch writer
Rogi Wieg


For Bert Schierbeek

It’s raining, the last of the flowers are
letting go, but people are blooming.

Hölderlin briefly reads clearly
then clouds over: curtains are shut

during the daytime. Doors close
without a keyhole. It’s raining hard.

And yet: humans believe that the world is
getting better, women draw a lipstick

and no revolver. Women bathe children,
but the sky turns their water black.

And yet: time unreels to give people
extra time and now Hölderlin will chuckle a bit

about the last pears. Although he’s mistaken:
it is his madness dancing to ashes’ tune.

It’s raining, the last flowers are
strewing children on the old earth.

And Hölderlin pores over his poem,
scratches some words, drinks and prays.

Sunday, 30 December 2012

Billy Collins in Danish?!

En anden grund til at jeg ikke har et gevær i huset

En anden grund til at jeg ikke har et gevær i huset
Naboernes hund vil ikke holde op med at gø.
Den gøer med densamme høje, rytmiske gøen
den bruger hver gang de forlader huset.

De må tænde for den hver gang de går ud.
Naboernes hund vil ikke holde op med at gø.
Jeg lukker samtlige vinduer i huset
og sætter en Beethovensymfoni på for fuld udblæsning
men, dæmpet under musikken, kan jeg stadig høre den
gø, gø, gø.

og nu ser jeg den sidde i orkestret,
scenevant, med hævet hovedet, som om Beethoven
havde inkluderet en stemme for gøende hund.

Da pladen til slut er forbi gøer den endnu,
sidder dér i obogruppen og gøer,
stirrer stift på dirigenten, som
opmuntrer den med taktstokken

imens de andre musikere lytter i ærbødig
tavshed til den berømte solo for gøende hund,
denne endeløse coda der for første gang etablerede
Beethoven som nyskabende geni.

Why not? For more in parallel text version, go to here.

Saturday, 29 December 2012

Poem by Eva Gerlach from 'Situaties' (2007)


Someone sings in the house behind doors that are five,
walls that are ten centimetres, bawling,
bellowing, someone scrubs herself bare, lets
air loose everywhere. In pipes and against

tiles, window-panes and thing contrary to
floor what you call? then an echo,
a whistling proceeds, a resonance audible
even in hearths and in logs, sweeping via

chimney flue over beeches, puff balls, sawdust
of guile bug, woe beetle, tumbling on cabbages and
ricocheting against village eardrums. Other than

this song soon nothing will exist. Drum, air,
on the skin round death in the fruit, fair
bursting out of its peel, so. Hours so. Days.

Friday, 28 December 2012

Another Benny Andersen poem


Prawns give you dry corneas
grease brings you out in spots
pancakes lie too heavy in your belly
streaky bacon isn’t good for the heart
fish isn’t good for the butcher
chicken isn’t good for the chicken
meat rissoles aren’t good for anything
avoid sago soup if you’re pregnant
avoid onions if you’re married
sweet is sinful
sour is dangerous
salt shortens your life
bitter spins it out
jam gives you floppy ears
hash makes your swimming bladder contract
egg makes your arms go lopsided
cheese affects your sense of smell
horseradish affects your taste
biscuits affect your hearing
radishes restrict your horizon
peas halt your development
cauliflower blocks the view
breakfast spoils your appetite
night snacks whet it
food isn’t good for the stomach
life is unhealthy

Tuesday, 25 December 2012

Benny Andersen - Danish
poet and musician

Adultery and love

To play on a miserable
neglected and misused instrument
is like going to bed with someone
                                    you don’t love
neither the piano nor you
feel anything except the urge
to get it over with quickly
You shut your eyes and think of
Steinway & Son
or Hornung & Møller
you are seized with self-pity
and sympathy for the poor creature
and the music sounds accordingly
until you suddenly find a sound
a buzzing momentum
a tenth from the old days
that has miraculously survived all ravishing
                                    and rape
an upright melancholy
like a partially burned stubblefield
You open your eyes
stare with unaccustomed tenderness
at the decayed yellow keys
everything is closer now
confined and forgotten notes
                                    are let loose
How wonderful living can be
To hell with Steinway & Møller
Now it’s just us two
for a brief eternity!

Sunday, 23 December 2012

Poem by the Swedish writer
Lars Gustafsson

The lamp

 Before the lamp was lit
we sat completely still

A crow’s rasping voice
and a sudden scent of clover

with a sweetish warmth
through this rising dark.

Water, completely still.
The earth, it too tranquil.

The bird flew
as close as it could

over its own shadow

And the bumblebee, faithful
friend of many summers,

crashed against the window pane
as if it were the wall of the world

And the dive dapper
flew from lake to lake

It could be late
or early
in various lives

it could be in a butterfly’s shadow
In the shadow of any life.

Friday, 21 December 2012

Same procedure as every year -
first verse of the poem by
the Danish poet Johannes V. Jensen

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.

Monday, 17 December 2012

Another butterfly poem - this time
by Dèr Mouw

A flower in flight with glittering opal gleam

A flower in flight with glittering opal gleam,
drifts – a live spectrum in the enormous light
of tropic sun – the butterfly, as bright,
no, drifting, brighter than the radiant beam.

If out of shadows any threat should come,
it drops at once, folds its lustre away,
and gutted, among colourless decay,
lies the untraceable small shard of sun.

Flitting from my Brahman’s world fire within,
my soul through my own nature hovers in
His light, reflecting Him in poetry.

Should reason stalk me, jealous, arid, grey,
I’ll gravely, sagely weigh each word I say,
blissfully hidden in my mimicry.

Saturday, 15 December 2012

One of the best of Grundtvig's Christmas hymns - with wonderful music by Carl Nielsen

It is a wondrous story

It is a wondrous story
and strange if pondered deep
that God’s realm’s future glory
must in a manger sleep,
that heaven’s light and splendour,
the living word for sure,
shall homeless ’mongst us wander
as poorest of the poor!

A nest has e’en the sparrow
where it can built a home,
nor needs the fleeting swallow
for night-time shelter roam.
The beasts need know no anguish,
in caves there’s rest in store,-
Shall then my Saviour languish
upon some stable’s straw?

No, come, I will throw open
my heart, my soul and mind,
yes, sing, sigh, prayers have spoken,
Come, Jesus, come and find!
It is no unknown chamber,
you bought it with your blood!
Here will you sweetly slumber
in love now swathed for good.

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Eva Gerlach poem published in
'Daar ligt het' (2003)


Just now the barge for Haarlem
passed through the street. Along the pavement
towed the scrawny horses with the lad and in
the middle of the road my grandpa’s grand
father cleft the waters. Don’t leave me
behind here I cried through the window
from where I saw them pass, I can’t just stay
here on my own, but borne along they took
the turn left to the park. The asphalt
closed up, from depths that I’d clearly seen
streaming, reflecting and
rushing, no fish leapt. Let’s hope
I thought that with still liquid tide they’ll
get to where they would be bound tonight.

Everything lay as it always lay.
You arrived, quite late, parked
carelessly as usual, took your case
from the car and standing there on
solid asphalt looked straight up at me.

Monday, 10 December 2012

One more from Dèr Mouw

‘k Zat, jong, graag in mijn pereboom te deinen:
in de afgeknotte top had ik een plank
getimmerd, en gevlochten, rank door rank,
klimop tot rugleun en veil’ge gordijnen.

Mijn zomerzon zag ‘k in mijn tuinen schijnen,
zelf in groen licht op wiegelende bank;
een open schoolraam galmde in zeur’ge klank
van kale en korte Karels en Pepijnen.

Zo, daadloos, boven ‘t leven, kijk ik toe:
mijn wereld ligt in de avondzon; ‘t wordt laat.
Mij zelf en andren heb ik ondergaan.

‘k Lach om wie zegt, dat ik mijn plicht niet doe;
en, wachtend, schommel ik op rijm en maat:
nooit heb ik zo, als nu, mijn plicht gedaan.

I rocked high in my peartree as a boy:
up in its thinned-out top I’d made a rack-
like seat, with plaited ivy shoots to act
as back-rest and safe curtains I deployed.

Swathed in green light, perched on my swaying board,
I watched my summer sun make gardens glow;
a school’s half-open window groaned below
from Charleses and from Pepins, bald and short.

Above life thus, I look on idly, mutely:
my world’s in evening sun; it’s getting late.
Myself and others I have undergone.

I laugh at those who say I shirk my duty,
and rock on rhyme and rhythm while I wait:
my duty has been never better done.

Sunday, 9 December 2012

Poem by the Danish writer
Sophus Claussen (1865-1931)


Jeg er ej født endnu, men fødende forløses jeg.
Af Livet i mit Værk jeg aner Livet i mig selv,
berøvet dette Spejl er jeg, saa godt som, lagt i Jord.

Mit Kald har jeg bragt med, og intet yder jeg af mit.
Men jeg forløses, og forløst ser jeg min Gæld betalt
til Kraften, den, jeg stammer fra, og som har udsendt mig.

Det Rige, som har indkaldt mig, og som jeg stammer fra,
er det en ufødt Magt, der fødende forløser sig?
Er det en Guddomspragt, hvis Væld er idel Herlighed?

Jeg ved det ej, men i mit Blod er alle Længslers Mod.
Jeg hamrer Ild af Mørket, udfrir de afmægtige.


I am unborn as yet, but am delivered giving birth.
From the life in my work I sense the life in myself,
robbed of this mirror, I am as good as laid in earth.

My calling I have brought with me, of my own I perform nothing,
But I am delivered, and delivered see my debt is paid
to the force from which I derive, and which has delegated me.

The kingdom that has summoned me and from which I derive –
is it an unborn power that delivers itself while giving birth?
Is it a divine splendour, whose fount is sheer glory?

I do not know, but in my blood is the courage of all longings.
I hammer fire out of darkness, liberate the helpless.

Saturday, 8 December 2012

Another poem by Ivan Malinowski

Mosquito song

in the june night this dream

the house borne on the foam of the cherry trees

to the gurgling wash of the drowning birds
beneath a bell jar frailer than the mirror of the fjord

my sleep the egg of a wren: a wall of
whitewash and optical illusion strained to bursting point

quiveringly planted in the dark in the white a sail
and silently there pecks an unseen beak

on the mirror’s membrane of wind and salt

the burst is imminent

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Poem by the Dutch writer
Menno Wigman

Room 421

My mother’s near kaput. She’s got a hutch,
not quite a box, and sits the same day out
each day on her much pissed-on chair. Can stare
at trees outside, and in those trees are birds
that know not who has once begotten them.
I’ve been her son now over forty years
and pay her calls and don’t know who I greet.
She’s read to me aloud, and tucked me up.
She falters, stalls, gets stuck. She’s near kaput.
No beast thinks of its mother, so they say.
With trembling hand I spoon food in her mouth
am almost certain she still knows my face.
It must be blackbirds. On and on they churn.
The earth cries out. And curse on curse is heard.

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Poem by Ivan Malinowski (1926-89) - a Danish poet

Disjecta membra

The gaze seeks a globe of peace but no
unity is final no boundary unwavering

even in eternity the lovers are cleft to the root
only fire goes never unsated to bed

the fruit’s two halves exclude each other
and happily die on their own

while the sunset suddenly lets slip the mask
and you look into a cellar of blood and panic

where everything only consists of its extremities
and nothing accordingly lasts

where a sun of nettles and burning dust
is the price of the metals’ mating and nothing’s

for sure not even the pain or the longing
with wandering waters under roofs of straw

there is no solution or balance
there is no dwelling on earth

but this divided blood refuses to die
and the flesh that clings to its bone can’t be cowed