Thursday, 7 October 2021

Duck-billed platypus by L. Th. Lehmann

L. Th. Lehmann [1920-2012]
photo: Leo van Velzen 

Duck-billed platypus


I proposed once Peg, from Geelong,

and was refused,

for a year I still got real tears in my eyes

when I heard 'Waltzing Mathilda'

because I didn't know any other Australian song.

Almost twenty years later

I met a typically

re-emigrated Dutch couple.

Their little son still had a platypus

made of nylon wool, called the plat pussy,

with in the belly a music box

that played 'Waltzing Mathilda'.

(Original title: 'Duck-billed platypus' - from: 'Gedichten 1939-1998', 2000 - Uitgeverij De Bezige Bij, Amsterdam)

Tuesday, 5 October 2021

A meeting about poetry

Martin Mooij (left) and C. Buddingh', about 1980, in the office of Poetry International 
at The Doelen in Rotterdam
[copyright photo Pieter Vandermeer]

Wednesday, 3 February 2021

Poetry is an act... by Remco Campert


Poetry is an act...

Poetry is an act
of endorsement. I endorse
that I live, that I do not just live.

Poetry is a future, thinking
of next week, of another country,
of you when you are old.

Poetry is my breath, moves
my feet, sometimes reluctantly,
over the earth that calls for it.

Voltaire had smallpox, but
cured himself for instance by drinking
120 litres of lemonade: that's poetry.

Or take the surf. Smashed
on the rocks it is not really beaten,
but regains itself and is therefore poetry.

Every word that is written
is an attack on old age.
Death wins in the end, yes of course,

but death is only the silence in the hall
after the last word has sounded.
Death is a poignancy.

Original title: Poëzie is een daad... From: Het huis waarin ik woonde - Uitgeverij De Bezige Bij - Amsterdam - 1955.

Monday, 1 February 2021

To a Chinese from Dordrecht by Jan Eijkelboom

Jan Eijkelboom 1926-2008
photo Internet

To a Chinese from Dordrecht

I had your poster with a poem
- just listen carefully -
attached to the window
with tape that when it got warmer
did not stick on one side
so that you hung lopsided
and look, your so crooked cigar
now pointed straight down
while your slightly crooked mouth
thus became straight, or straightened up
(only the poster was hanging).
Diagonal was, on the other hand
your broadly-striped shirt
in which the death-doomed body
could crackle like gravel.
Suddenly I didn't see you at home
but in a pressure suit on the moon,
still alive enough, but with a grin
no longer. You saw too much
of what on this earth, even
on this island, on the Bankastraat,
would never again be what it was.

I cut two new pieces of tape
and hang you pure spirit level.

Original title: Op een Dordtse chinees From: De gouden man - Uitgeverij De Arbeiderspers - Amsterdam - 1982.

Rural autumn by Hans Warren


Hans Warren
20 oktober 1921 - 19 december 2001
[photo Internet]

Rural autumn

Who hasn't, like us, in the darkest Europe
of this century, when it seemed there wasn't
a way out anymore, been young,
and loved somebody, will never grasp

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

We knew for sure, 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 even lived yet.

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

Monday, 25 January 2021

Just listen carefully by C. Buddingh'

Just listen carefully
Painting by Toon Winkler (1923-1989)

I often listen to my breathing.
Something is always wheezing or grinding or rattling:
muffled signals from my bronchi
that there all is still functioning reasonably.

One can hear too much, but also too little.
Too much: the doctor comes with a syringe.
Nothing at all: one is on one's death bed.
No, the best is somewhere in between.

Those long familiar, rustling sounds:
like a mouse gnawing on a rind of cheese,
like a ripple through coal dust.

Especially at night: the whole neighbourhood sleeps,
one reads and listens, smiles, reads and listens,
and alive enough one looks ahead with a grin.

Original title: ''Goed luisteren maar''  From the collection Gedichten 1974/1985, Uitgeverij de Bezige Bij, Amsterdam, 1986