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:


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