Thursday, 31 March 2016

Marjoleine de Vos 'Aanzie de vogels' - 'Consider the birds'

consider the birds

The tit on my fat-ball fancies itself
well preserved yet does not know the word
which says that to be sorrow-free, like it,
seeing your Father always will provide,
is most desired by all that lives.
It never springs to mind it should adore me
who give it seeds and peanuts.

But, little tit of mine, you live on tick.
Soon I will fly to Africa and you
will rue your puny mystical ideal:
such gratuitous absorption in the present
and sole fixation: now, now, now.

Bloem: 'De Gelatene' - 'The Stoic'


The window open, I grant autumn passage -
The inexpressible, that as of old
And still the same. My one desire, all told,
Is this: to always love its message.

This life held little to be won in store.
It does not matter now. Defence is vain
If one considers all the world-old pain
Of countless billions who have gone before.

Youth is all restlessness and a bemused
Great yearning to have loved ones time can’t best –
And loneliness a source of loss, a curse.

All that is past, and life is almost used.
In solitude the heart can now find rest.
And then: one’s life could well have been much worse.

Wednesday, 30 March 2016

Section from 'Het Uur U' by Martinus Nijhoff

Now there’s a certain game
that children play with the name,
so I’m told, of ‘treading on shadows’.
As someone walks, one follows
his shadow and keeps in his wake.
Normally, for each step he takes
one has to take two to his one.
It cut one right to the bone,
it tore at the heartstrings to see
the group in a row to be
skipping along as they did –
a stranger followed by kids.
It cut to the quick to be sure
to see sailor’s blouse and plusfours
dancing arm in arm together,
all the while holding in tether
the other two at their sides:
sailor helped swimsuit who
had managed to lose one shoe
and the second would follow the first,
while in a sudden burst
of speed alongside the plusfours
ran the owner of the poor
scooter, dumped at the kerb in full view. –
It was now long overdue
that all of this came to a close.
Against the house windows
there came the loud tapping
of fingers all rapping,
like an angry hen had begun
to call chickens back to the run.
The children paid no heed.
What had just occurred would need
their attention to the full.
The shadow now stood still.
Quite undaunted, they viewed,
their eyes raised, the stranger who
had come to a halt close by.
His head held half to one side
he gave them a serious look.
Unabashed, not one of them took
away either one of their hands.
And thus interlinked the band
of the four children stood,
like Tom Thumb in the wood,
gazing down at the tiny stones.
It lasted a minute perhaps, though
one that was an eternity.
Then the man moved on, and he
with his strange, extended walk
was seen – in no time at all –
to be round the corner and gone.

To see the entire poem, go to here

Sunday, 27 March 2016

A Høeck poem from 'Blackberry Winter' (1987)

tusind morgenfruer

den ene ved
siden af den anden

smukkere endnu for hver
gang gentagelsen finder sted

lige dejlig hver eneste gang
du får øje på dens glorie

har du set een morgenfrue
har du set dem alle
har du set alle morgenfruer
har du dog kun set een

a thousand marigolds

the one standing
next to the other

more beautiful every time
the repetition takes place

as lovely every single time
you catch a glimpse of its halo

if you have seen one marigold
you have seen them all
if you have seen all marigolds
you’ve only seen the one

Saturday, 26 March 2016

A Kingo hymn for Easter Sunday

Like the sun in golden splendour

Like the sun in golden splendour
Breaks through clouds as black as night,
Forcing dark and gloom’s surrender
With its radiant shafts of light,
So did Jesus from his grave
And death’s sea’s abysmal cave
Rise in glory, death now scorning
At first blush of Easter morning.

Thanks to thee, from death arisen
And that thou its hold couldst quell
Since it thee could not imprison,
In its tent pitch-black as hell.
Thanks to thee, victorious lord,
Heaven’s hero, much adored.
Proper joy one can but stutter,
For no tongue full praise can utter.

Deep within my heart is something,
Solace which the soul can find,
Which can soothe the pain forthcoming
When thy grave just fills my mind,
And reflect on where thou layst
In death’s endless empty space,
And rose up in power and splendour,
What can greater joy engender?

Should I lie in sin’s foul fetters,
Should I lie by sickness spent,
Should I lie midst worldly debtors
Should I lie by sorrows pent,
Should I lie despised, distressed,
By the world so sore oppressed,
In the grave I’ll make my dwelling,
There’s still hope beyond all telling.

For man’s sin thou paidst most dearly,
Death for me thou hast endured;
I, once wretched, poor and weary,
Also sick, by thee am cured.
I through thee from death’s dark vale
Shall be raised up, whole and hale,
Hold my head erect, unfearing,
All distress see disappearing.

Sin and death and every arrow
Which foul Satan can let fly
Since death’s dark land thee would harrow
Broken and defeated lie!
Thou didst bury them, and give
Me a staff to surely live
So when thou shalt come in glory
I’ll wave victor’s palms fronds for thee.

As God’s Son I now do own thee,
Thy omnipotence perceive,
Your defeat of death has shown me
What I know and I believe,
Blessedness and hope for me,
My baptism’s certainty,
In thy death are like an image
And thy resurrection’s message.

Thou one day to life willst raise me
By thy resurrective power
Let the earth conceal, erase me,
Worms my very juice devour,
Fire and water me consume!
I lie trusting in my tomb
That to life I shall be taken,
In death’s realm not lie forsaken.

Jesus, thy sweet mercy show me,
By thy holy spirit bred,
So my life’s course I can show thee,
When it by thy hand is led,
So I shall not fall again
Into death’s abyss of pain,
Out of which you once retrieved me,
Where you death suppressed completely.

For the joy thy birth’s professing
For your Godhead’s healing word,
For baptism’s holy blessing,
For communion’s joy conferred,
For the quelling of death’s dread,
For thy rising from the dead,
Lord, I thank thee unconfinedly
That in heaven I shall find thee.