Sunday 10 April 2016

'De wolken' by Martinus Nijhoff in English translation


I still wore boy’s clothes and lay side by side
Outstretched with mother in the heath’s warm lair;
Above us shifting clouds were drifting by
And mother asked me what I saw up there.

And I cried: Scandinavia, and: swans,
A lady, and: a shepherd with his sheep –
The wonders were made word and drifted on,
But I saw mother, smiling, start to weep.

Then came the time I kept the earth in sight,
Although up in the sky the clouds were rife;
I did not seek to try to catch in flight
The strange thing’s shadow as it grazed my life.

- Now on the heath my lad lies next to me
And points out what in new clouds he can spy;
I’m crying now, for far off I can see
The distant clouds that made my mother cry -

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