Wednesday 30 September 2015

Poem by Tarjei Vesaas (1897-1970)


Vil du gje meg handa ved månens skin,
lauv du er –
Under open himmel. Over open avgrunn.

Som lauv
er du og eg.
Fort skjelvande, og fort borte.
Kom –


Will you give me your hand in the moonlight,
leaf that you are –
Beneath an open sky. Above open chasms.

Like leaves
you and I

Quickly trembling,
 quickly gone.

Come –

Friday 25 September 2015

Poem by Jan Glas

that’s not the way it went

To everyone’s amazement the fat lady from next door
once that she had upped and died
just went on talking:

long quotations from old newsreel journals;
especially accounts of the royal family
and the joyous days in May of 1945.

First people thought, the body is still warm,
when it grows stiff her mouth will cramp up tight.
But that’s not the way it went.

She started singing: nursery rhymes
that most people had long ago forgotten,
small gems of innocence and hope.

Cautiously someone began to sing along.
Then someone else, one more. Till everyone was singing.
An accordion was mobilised.

'A Scandinavian I', says Hans Christian Andersen

‘A Scandinavian I!’

We Scandinavians are a single people,
Although three kingdoms are our native lands;
Yet one of heaven’s great gifts makes us equal:
Our hearts now form a whole with steadfast bands!
Let all past wrongs between us be forgotten:
Margrethe’s purer spirit is begotten
That now unites us, threefold strength supplies us,
Our language unifies us.
On hills, in woods, on night-blue sea I cry
Aloud with joy: A Scandinavian I!

Join me on Dovre’s peaks and Jökel’s glacier,
Hear thundering waters, farming maiden’s song;
Fresh lake and mountain air breathe in and savour,
I walk where once Norse gods did stride along;
And if I most would hear of men of glory,
Of Olaf, Hakon, Harald and their story,
Then mountainwards! with mighty rock-built castles
Stands Norway richly marshalled
In gleam of Northern lights, where seas run high;
I love you well! A Scandinavian I!

Come, take the swiftest boat, let steam transport us,
Let rivers and great lakes our roads now be!
Sail over mountains with tall birch below us
Exhaling scent! Oh, Sweden I love thee!
From here once Gustav Adolf’s name resounded,
The last true Northern knight of fame unbounded.
Some bark-bread, and the Swedish peasant’s singing,
Frugality him winging,
He sings the songs that bards did once supply,
As we do too: A Scandinavian I!

A fresh bouquet of corn and hops and clover
Is Denmark! Come and see our woods of beech!
The gentle plains its spirit’s sons rove over,
And horses’ clanging hooves all corners reach –
To art and science we Denmark would be showing,
Of this small land all Europe shall be knowing:
Through Thorvaldsen its name in stone is ringing,
Through Tycho first set winging;
A rose is Denmark! Scandinavian, tell
Of sea-tossed land where flowering spirits dwell!

Let not this unity e’er wilt or wither,
Let Norway, Sweden, Denmark stay as one;
The ancient folk-songs bind us all together,
Their melody’s a bond surpassed by none.
The seed of unity promotes good harvest,
To East and West our bold gaze reaches farthest,
In joy and sorrow, here our home is nearest!
Here those live who are dearest!
From fir and birch and beech, in sea and sky
Let joy’s song sound: A Scandinavian I!

Sunday 20 September 2015

Beautiful poem by Joop Leibbrand


Ik lag zomaar wat buiten, dacht aan
niets dan aan mijzelf, zo’n bodemloze
dag waarop je denkt ik maak nog
mee dat ik er zelf niet meer ben.

Ik zag de libel op mijn voet zonder
dat ik haar voelde, haar vleugels tilden
de kleur van hun eigen gewicht, gazen
godsbewijs, de kat vrat het iedere avond.

Toen was er de weerstand van een gelijk-
tijdige tweede, eenzelfde. Fijn gelagerd
draaide het kopje, schokten de oogjes.

Mijn benen verkrampten in het dragen
van zovee] aandacht, van zoveel even-
wicht waar ik niet buiten kon staan.

Spirit level*

I was just lying outside, thinking of
nothing but myself, one of those bottomless
days when you think could be I’ll
experience not being there any more.

I saw the dragonfly on my foot without
feeling it, its wings lifted the colour
of its own weight, gossamer proof of
god’s existence, the cat ate it every evening.

Then there was the resistance of a simul-
taneous second one, identical. On smooth bearings
the head turned, the small eyes twitched.

My legs tensed up from carrying
so much attention, from so much equi-
librium which I could not stand outside.

*The Dutch word ‘libel’ can also mean spirit level (‘waterpas’)

Saturday 19 September 2015

No. 17 Jacobus Revius 'Scheppinge'/'Creation'


God heeft de werelt door onsichtbare clavieren
Betrocken als een luyt met al sijn toebehoor.
Den hemel is de bocht vol reyen door en door,
Het roosken, son en maen die om ons hene swieren.

Twee grove bassen die staech bulderen en tieren
Sijn d’aerd en d’oceaan: de quinte die het oor
Verheuget, is de locht: de reste die den choor
Volmaket, is t’geboomt en allehande dieren.

Dees luyte sloech de Heer met sijn geleerde vingers,
De engels stemden in als treffelicke singers,
De bergen hoorden toe, de vloeden stonden stil:
Den mensch alleen en hoort noch sangeren noch snaren,
Behalven dien ’t de Heer belieft te openbaren
Na zijn bescheyden raet en Goddelijcken wil.


God with his wires invisible has strung the world
As ’twere a lute, with all of its accoutrements.
The welkin is the bowl, full-ribbed from end to end,
The rose, the sun and moon whose orbits round us twirl.

The two coarse bass strings that forever boom and roar
Are earth and ocean: the high chanterelle, so sweet
Upon the ear, the sky: the others that complete
The choir are the trees and beasts of every sort.

This lute th’Almighty plucked with His accomplished fingers,
The angels then joined in as His proficient singers,
The mountains listened rapt, the rivers all stood still:
And man alone hears neither singers nor the strings,
Unless it please God to reveal to him such things
According to His prudent plan and heav’nly will.