Tuesday, 6 March 2018

Dublin by Frank van Dijl

Frank van Dijl [1951]
photo Internet

Everyone in Dublin has the same popish
puppy-face that you still see in remote 
parishes in the south of the Low Countries,
which have only just been connected to 
the telegraph and telephone net.
The Irish: palefaces with water-colour freckles 
and lifeless eyes that at any
moment can drown in tears. Indeed,
drowning sorrow in drink is what they do best:
when you give them a pint they will wag 
their tails and growl in gratitude. 
Sometimes, it is said, they lick your hand.
After closing time, far too early of course,
they piss, one paw up, against the pub.

In almost everything they imitate the English,
but after all, how long haven't these been their 
bosses? So it's bacon and eggs in the morning,
tea with milk, sandwiches for lunch, tea
with milk, a bit later afternoon tea, with milk,
and in the evening steak and kidney pie with
far too big, far too green peas. Just like the
English they drive on the left, although it makes 
no difference on their narrow roads where you drive.
And they speak English: the bilingual
street signs are only there for show,
just like The Irish Times has a little corner
left for an article in Gaelic.
A stray dog is dead happy with the smallest bone.

It is a long way to Tipperary:
the dog, dead tired, drags his paw.
Oh, sure, Ireland is stunning, with mountains
and valleys, and the Irish whiskey is
good to drink: I know all about it.
But James Joyce wrote his best books somewhere else,
though of course, in the museum dedicated to him 
in Dublin, they don't tell you that,
and Kennedy became America's president.
Ireland is not a country, it is an island,
and it isn't even that. No one feels called to greatness, 
meekly they walk the streets, thanking God 
that at least there are potatoes again.
Then what the hell was I doing in Dublin?

I, who went swinging in London, Paris or 
Berlin, entered – madness - 
the kite of Aer Lingus and read sweating 
how I should act in case of emergency.
I sought oblivion in alcohol. The drink 
against fear of death, which I didn't seek here, 
consoled my body, and my limbs acted 
as if it was normal to be Icarus.
No city beneath me, Dublin is a hole 
between mountains of cardboard, a decor for 
cheap tragedies without a heldentenor.
I, Icarus, fell. It didn't help to call out.
Who would save me: I fell with them. But just as
the sea is good enough for the sailor, I was content.

Original title: Dublin From: De Tweede Ronde, tijdschrift voor literatuur, herfst 1981 - Uitgeverij Bert Bakker, Amsterdam

Monday, 5 March 2018

ars poetica by C. Buddingh'

ars poetica
C. Buddingh' [1918-1985]

I remember as if it were only yesterday
(I was maybe 22): I was
brooding on a poem, and my mother
was peeling the potatoes near the window

the verse was not working: my back was
dripping with sweat and with annoyance I thought:
how can one in the name of god then
write poetry in a room where
someone is peeling potatoes ?

That evening, when everyone was sleeping, I finished
the verse: it was an exceptionally poor verse

and only very much later did I understand: the best
poetry is written while peeling potatoes

Original title: 'ars poetica' -from the collection 'Is dit genoeg: een stuk of wat gedichten -  honderd jaar Noord- en Zuidnederlandse poëzie (1880-1980) in dertig thema's - dl.II - samengesteld door C. Buddingh' en Eddy van Vliet - 1982 - Uitgeverij Elsevier Manteau, Amsterdam/Antwerpen

Friday, 2 March 2018

Something about music in March by Jaap Harten

Something about music in March
Jaap Harten

From my window
I see tomcat Ape sneaking over
the gutter of the neighbour's shed.

Grey skin against grey
roof tiles, a drizzly sky
above it and in the background

the RC graveyard with a lilac
prelate. Today an important person will be
committed to the earth there.

Starchy or dejected (who can say?)
the bereaved trudge, friends,
housekeepers, etc. behind the coffin.

It is 12th March, cutting bleakly in shrubs
and wreath ribbons: tears might also
be brought about by the lashing wind.

Always looking at tombstones
leads to too much organ music at home.
Why not play a LP with the
sonatina of Ravel for once?

Consolation is not for sale. Years
pass by and I'm off now to buy
luncheon meat; life goes on

they say. Even so, while shopping, I worry
about the right music at my cremation:
Satie too modish, Bach too outmoded.

I'd choose Greta Keller with Dis-mois je t'aime
a scratchy little record from the meagre
thirties, but the favourite

song of Dior. It would match my
French ties, boots and glasses.
I never really felt I belonged in

Holland, rather to German drag
or Indonesian boy. Honestly, I
am at an utter loss in this country.

Original title: 'Iets over muziek in maart' -from the collection 'Poëzie is en daad van bevestiging' - Noord- en Zuidnederlandse poëzie van 1945 tot heden - gebundeld en ingeleid door C. Buddingh' en Eddy van Vliet - 1984 - Uitgeverij Manteau Amsterdam

Rural autumn by Hans Warren

Hans Warren
Rural autumn

Who haven't, like us, in the darkest Europe
of this century, when it seemed there was
no way out anymore, been young,
and loved someone, will never grasp

how we clutched onto a little happiness,
a sonnet, a trace of luxury,
some grapes in a crystal bowl, that cracked
when bombers passed over.

For surely we knew, we had witnessed
death daily in many forms.
Whether we would ever have a future
looked, given our situation, more and more uncertain.

That is why autumn was possibly the most heart-rending:
everything was dying and we hadn't yet lived.

Original title: 'Landelijke herfst' -from the collection 'Poëzie is en daad van bevestiging' - Noord- en Zuidnederlandse poëzie van 1945 tot heden - gebundeld en ingeleid door C. Buddingh' en Eddy van Vliet - 1984 - Uitgeverij Manteau Amsterdam

Heavenly Peace by Ira Bart

Heavenly Peace
                                        for Duo Duo
Ira Bart (Ria Baart)

You were on the Tiananmen Square
when a new wind was starting to blow there
full of spring air and cherry blossom, the future

crushed under the wheels of tanks

                       - colics, hard corses of a lava flow -

did you run, no, but did I run
over my screen.

I recognised you later in my country
by a photo in the newspaper.

Driven by hate and homesickness you watched
in my house pictures of the whitewashed square where
what had happened was no longer shown.

               People who haves eyes are often sad, you said,

swimming in the sea, where your head
became a smaller and smaller dot
until I could only somehow
                                                        surmise it.

Men in a boat showed you the way
back. Why, you asked, denying the supremacy
of the sees, surely rinsing off something

               must be done with a great deal of water?

Original title: Hemelse Vrede - From the collection: Verwaaide liefdes, tere vleugels - 1997 - Uitgeverij Tortuca, Rotterdam

Monday, 19 February 2018

The thrush again by Hans Andreus

Hans Andreus

The thrush again.
There wasn't an evening
that he lost his way:
his soundtrack

between the houses
moved unfailingly synchronized
with in this
reality the in-

escapable effect
of clouds, sky and
setting sun

and while I lay still
as if I were dead,
sang he. He sang.

Original title: 'De lijster weer' - from: Om de mond van het licht. Een kleine case history - Uitgeversmaatschappij Holland BV - Haarlem - 1973