Saturday 26 June 2021

Cécile Périn: 'Aube'




Un invisible oiseau dans l’air pur a chanté.

Le ciel d’aube est d’un bleu suave et velouté.


C'est le premier oiseau qui s'éveille et qui chante.

Ecoute! les jardins sont frémissants d'attente.


Ecoute! Un autre nid s'éveille, un autre nid,

Et c’est un pépiement éperdu qui jaillit.


Qui chante le premier? Nul ne le sait. C’est l’aurore.

Comme un abricot mur, le ciel pâli se dore.


Qui chante le premier? Qu’importe? On a chanté.

Et c’est un beau matin de l'immortel été.





A bird has sung above, in clear air, out of view.

The dawn sky has a sheen of smooth and velvet blue.


It is the first of all the birds to wake and sing.

Hark, hark! The waiting gardens quiver at its ring.


Hark, hark! Another nest awakes, and yet one more,

Their frenzied chirping notes gush forth and upwards soar.


Who sings first? There’s no knowing. Dawn comes as of old.

Like apricots that ripen, the pale sky turns gold.


Who sings first? It’s no matter. For there now is song –

Immortal summer’s lovely morning won’t be long.

Friday 25 June 2021

A.L. Snijders: 'De natuur'




The land round my house is being left in the lurch. By me. Nature is taking over. I know a lot of people who end up leaving their house because the garden gets too toilsome. I’ve never understood that, nature is so easy-going, nature is everywhere ready to take over from humanity, nature is truly our best friend. On one occasion I paid a visit to a man in the sparsely populated eastern part of France. He was a friend of my father’s, he lived there on his own, his wife had died and, on closer consideration, he found he didn’t get on well with his children. They were fonder of the town than they were of him, and that he probably found easier too. He noted that the ideas he had always nurtured did not live for ever. At the time of my visit he was eighty and I was fifty. His house had been completely pinned down by nature. The path from his door to the road was the only exit, about fifty metres. He kept it open by means of a chainsaw – an overground tunnel had come into being. He knew he was dependent on that saw. When he was no longer able to wield it, his time would have come. I didn’t ask him what that experience would mean in this particular case – mumbling away with other oldies in a House of Mercy or a self-chosen death.

After that visit, I have never visited a foreign country again. I believe that there are many things you have to stop doing while you are still alive – travelling is one of them. The land around my house is visited by deer. I don’t see them often, but I know that they’re there. The times I have seen them, they have had a young deer with them. It’s a pleasurable idea that I live in an invisible house where a deer imagines its offspring is safe. I don’t play any loud music, I have a car that is scarcely audible, I don’t buy any fireworks to celebrate the New Year. In the distance I can hear some go off, but that too will stop when nature finally and inaudibly has won the battle.


Wednesday 23 June 2021

Cécile Périn: 'Dans le labyrinth'

 Dans le labyrinthe


Je ne veux désormais que l'ombre et la douleur.

Pour que vers mon ami je marche plus légère,

De tout ce qui fut doux j'ai dépouillé mon cœur

Tout palpitant encor de bonheurs éphémères.


Mon compagnon n'a plus de mains. J'ai les mains vides.

Mon compagnon n'a plus de voix. Et je me tais.

J'erre seule, attendant que son amour me guide

Dans l'étroit labyrinthe ainsi qu'un fil secret.


Mais je n'ai que mes doigts de chair pour m’agripper

Dans la nuit ténébreuse à sa forme immortelle,

Et je n'ai que mon front pesant pour m'appuyer

Comme un enfant perdu sur l'épaule irréelle.



In the labyrinth


I only wish henceforth for shadows and for pain.

So I more lightly can advance towards my friend,

All that my heart rejoiced in I have sought to drain,

Though throbbing still with fleeting joys have sought to end.


Now my companion’s handless. Empty hands are mine.

Now my companion’s voiceless. And I hold my peace.

I roam alone, while for his guiding love I pine

Which like some secret thread could from this maze release.


Fingers of flesh alone are all that I possess

To clutch immortal form, here in the shady night,

My heavy brow alone is all that I can press

Against the unreal shoulder as a lost child might. 

Saturday 19 June 2021

A.L. Snijders: 'Het pad'


the path


The path alongside my house belongs to the house. A few people have right of way, that’s written down somewhere. If I try to stop them, they can refer to their right and then I have to allow them to pass. But that has never happened, I always let everybody use it. That is because I don’t want to concern myself with the matter. So far, everything seems clear and straightforward. I have, however, now discovered a snag – I have read in the newspaper than no one reads poetry any more. For that reason, I have decided to address all those who illegally try to make use of my path: you are only allowed to if you listen to a poem that I recite. This happened for the first time yesterday. It was a man on his own, a bird-watcher type. He looked like a sullen but not reflective-vest type, not someone who if faced with a setback sets light to a car tyre. He stood listening while from memory I recited the first quatrain of the famous sonnet by the poet Dèr Mouw:


I’m Brahman. But we’re stuck without a maid.

Around the house I just do what I can:

throw out my dirty water, fill the can;

but have no dish-cloth; mess things I’m afraid.*


To my astonishment, he did not set off along the path, but asked me what happened next. I brought out the whole poem, for I was not sure if I could remember the following ten lines from memory without faltering.

After that, we talked about the poem, it is one with a considerable philosophical basis. After a quarter of an hour I invited him in – there was a vicious, cold spring wind. He stayed for two hours. I don’t know whether to repeat this method or not.


* to see the whole poem in translation, go to here:


Short poem by Riekus Waskowsky

 In one of the ZKVs in A.L. Snijders last book, Tat Tvam Asi, he quotes a three-liner by Riekus Waskowsky (p. 75). It is haiku, but I cannot get the translation that short:

So translating poetry is something I cannot quite yet.

Thursday 17 June 2021

A.L. Snijders: 'The promontory'

 Snijder's publishers have sent the first few lines of Snijder's last ZKV, which he had not completed when he died recently. In a sense, the fragment is complete. It is a Jungian adumbration:



During the Book Week I have visited towns from Zutphen to Nijmegen.


I gave a reading in a bookshop. Afterwards an old man came up to me and explained that I did not exist. I asked him in that case who I was. He couldn’t tell me, that was none of his business. I asked him in that case what his business was, but he had no answer to that. I told him that in the Mediterranean (the sea of Homer) a promontory has been named after me – Cape Snijders.

Benny Andersen: 'Kierkegaard på cykel'

 Kierkegaard on a bicycle

Some things got lost over time
a lot was scarcely worth remembering
but I remember as if only yesterday
although it’s more than a week ago
Søren Kierkegaard coming on a bicycle
wait a moment it must be about
150 years ago
and I hadn’t even been born then
but never mind
he comes bicycling down Hjortekær Road
and I’m on my way up
so we got off and had a little chat
now someone’s sure to object
that the bicycle hadn’t been invented then
but such things don’t faze great minds
and he could be a bit absent-minded at times

Slightly out of breath he set to work illustrating
what he meant by the term repetition
which he spelt with a capital, i.e. Repetition:
The constantly repeated use of the pedals
caused the wheels to turn round
it was so to speak repetition
that made the wheels go round
and increased the desire to see new places
or to revive well-known places
But the most brilliant thing about the bicycle was
that you could do both at the same time
you sat in the same place
and with the aid of repetition could
move this place with you
in that way you could cycle from inner Copenhagen
all the way out to Hjortekær and Dyrehaven
and experience lots of marvellous places en route
without budging from the place where you were
Yes and that was long before there was TV
Then he nipped off again on his bicycle
I’ve never seen him since 
and not at all before
possibly never
but I remember that about repetition
and you can say a lot about Kierkegaard
but the man damned well knew what he was talking about

Tuesday 15 June 2021

Marjoleine de Vos: 'Het leven in juni'


Life in June 

Around me everything’s loudly alive
the farmer on his mower, bleating sheep
in the maple a blackcap calling
for its mate, from the depths of flowers
the droning of a bee.

And I’m also alive but have to say so myself
for nothing of all I observe mentions me.
As you can talk with friends about past times:
We were on the beach, in a tent, perfectly happy –
then the question: were you there too?

So I’m alone in the garden in the world
and around me everything breathes and inside
sits a man. This then is life, he writes,
this morning in June, the blackcap singing
and her in the garden.

Wednesday 9 June 2021

Tuesday 8 June 2021

Werner Aspenström: 'Ikaros och gossen Gråsten'


Ikaros och gossen Gråsten


Efter att ha läst 73 (förträffliga) dikter om Ikaros

önskar jag lägga ett ord för hans lantlige kusin,

gossen Gråsten, kvarlämnad på ängen.

Jag talar också på en grästuvas vägnar 

som åtnjuter skugga och vindskydd.


Efter att ha läst 73 dikter om flykt och om vingar

önskar jag frambära min hyllning till fotsulan,

den nedåtvända själen, konsten att stanna

och att äga tyngd – såsom gossen Gråsten

eller hans syster, hemmadottern fröken Granbuske,

som glanslöst men evigt grönskar.



Icarus and Master Greystone


After having read 73 (excellent) poems about Icarus

I wish to put in a word for his country cousin,

Master Greystone, left behind on the meadow.

I am also speaking on behalf of a tuft of grass

that enjoys shadow and shelter from the wind.


After having 73 poems about flight and about wings

I wish to express my tribute to the sole of the foot,

the downturned soul, the art of staying put

and possessing weight – as does Master Greystone

or his sister, stay-at-home Miss Spruceling,

lack-lustre but eternally green.


Werner Aspenström: 'Glädjen'




Gråvädersdagen trycker mot takåsen.

Det luktar mögel och sorgsenhet.

I hjärtats ena kammare molar raseriet,

iden andra sitter döden och gäspar.

Plötsligt kan glädjen uppenbara sig,

morgonfräck, nästan prålande,

som tuppen på en gödselstack.





The overcast day presses against the roof ridge.

There is a smell of mould and melancholy.

In one chamber of the heart rage is a dull ache,

in the other death sits yawning.

Suddenly happiness can appear on the scene,

dawn-brazen, almost flaunting itself,

like the cock on a dunghill.


Monday 7 June 2021

Werner Aspenström: 'Sommarnatt'




Solbrasan har sjunkit i havet,

ugglan tänder sina lyktor.

Jag låser för natten.

I köket: doft av dill,

i kammaren jasminer.

Ömt lyfter du katten från sängtäcket.

Din nakna kropp skimrar som skumbläddror på stranden.


Snart är jag dig så nära

att dina ögonfransar krusas.



Summer night


The bonfire of the sun has sunk into the sea,

the owl lights its lamps.

I lock up for the night.

In the kitchen: a scent of dill,

in the room jasmine.

Gently you lift the cat off the bedspread.                                                                                  

Your naked body gleams like scrolls of foam on the seashore.


Soon I am so close to you

that your eyelashes ripple.


Anneke Brassinga: Poems from 'Verborgen tuinen'

Sunday 6 June 2021

Werner Aspenström: 'Världsträdet'




I natt såg jag världsträdet,

mörkt, överskuggande.

En slocknad jättekandelaber

som täckte helt det ljusa himmelsfönstret.

Ett höstligt träd, ett bittert träd,

orörligt och med drypande bark.

Kanske fanns ännu stormar

och skärande rop från mänskor,

men allt detta skedde djupt därnere,

där ingen ändring är möjlig.


Ett träd såg jag och de tunga dödsfåglarna,

som makligt flyttade sig från gren till gren.



The World Tree


Last night I saw the world tree,

dark, overshadowing.

An extinguished giant candelabra

that covered the whole bright firmament

An autumn tree, a bitter tree,

motionless and with dripping bark.

Perhaps storms still existed

and piercing cries from humans,

but all of this took place deep down there

where no change is possible.


A tree I saw and the heavy birds of death

that leisurely shifted from branch to branch.

Wim Brands: 'Nolde'



Hij ziet ruim van tevoren of

er bezoek komt. Geen

ander huis,


struik of boom ontneemt hem

het zicht. Zo kan hij

blijven schilderen


tegen het verbod in.


Nooit olieverf die valt

te ruiken.


Waterverf – meer dan

1300 werken:


zijn ongeschilderde





He can see any impending visit

well in advance. No

other house,


bush or tree impedes

his view. So he can

keep on painting


despite the prohibition.


Never oil paint it can

be smelt.


Watercolour – more than

1300 works:


his unpainted




Saturday 5 June 2021

Werner Aspenström: 'Dikt'




Någon närmar sig i mockasiner.

Det kan inte vara haren.

Och inte gryningen.


Då kikar han fram mellan två granar.

Svarta flätor, påfågelsfjädrar,

och liknar alls inte månen.




Someone is approaching in moccasins.

It cannot be the hare.

Not the dawn either.


Then he peers out between two fir trees.

Black plaits, peacock feathers,

and does not look at all like the moon.