P/P | r2c | March: When Day Equals Night
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Digging Out, Spring Snow, the Alps "...I had forgotten how it was,
that the spring is not a silent flowering,
soft dreaming, but intense growing,
already passionate beginnings,
leaping up out of a deep sleep,
dancing away without a thought. "

from Spring, a poem
by M. Vasalis

This week, an image
Digging Out, Spring Snow.
Click left or here for companion image,
Coltsfoot, First Flowers of Spring
Also: seven new translations
of Lowland poems.

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When Day Equals Night

'Ik droomde, dat ik langzaam leefde...
langzamer dan de oudste steen.' *

   M. Vasalis

"I dreamed that I lived slowly...
more slowly than the oldest stone."

One of the things which we traditionally have come to expect of poetry is that it both celebrates and articulates the large-scale movements of the natural year. Of course, how it does this, and the type and quality of movements the poetry calls attention to, will depend very much on the culture to which it belongs. At the same time, there is a kind of necessary co-evolution taking place, because poetry—at least in the view being considered here—is one of the more important formative forces which gives shape to the culture.

This is because poetry deals essentially with how we see ourselves and the world: new insights, new ways of understanding emotions, new ways of seeing the significance of even the smallest of details experienced in everyday life.

But the seasons?
The rhythms of natural change? What more could be added to the well-known classical expressions—now almost cliches—of descriptive, pastoral, scenes of the earth changing its clothes, so to speak, as it moves from one time of year to the next? Well, that depends, does it not. My own feeling is that a great deal might be added. and necessarily so, for if anything, it can be argued—and that is certainly my position—that present Western culture as we know it is profoundly lost in both time and space. By this I mean simply that both natural time and space have been largely—and it seems to me that everyone at least tacitly experiences some sense of loss here— colonized by, for lack of a better term, the commercial powers that be. That is why time is becoming strictly homogenized, 24/7, as the current saying goes, anytime being evidently as good as the next. And the space, especially in North America, is structured to fit the movements of cars and not humans, and lacks almost entirely strong, articulate, living, centers.

Centers. Places where essences converge. Like a flower, or a poem, or in a more prosaic sense, a lively coffee house or concert hall.

But time? Ah yes, now we come to spring and vernal equinox, when day equals night. Of the seven new translations of Dutch poems offered here, four directly concern the time of year of new beginnings which in English we call Spring. (Ponder for a moment the many beautiful meanings of that word—a leap of new-born lamb, the new shoot of a plant, the source of eternally fresh, cool, water—all converging together). The Dutch, however, say "voorjaar" which means literally a kind of 'prelude year' or year before the main one which comes with summer. Spring, by M. Vasalis, shares with us a lovely sequence of images which somehow helps to root ourselves for a moment squarely in time and space, and yet at the same time almost standing outside of it. The Crocus, by Albert Verwey, calls our attention to the similarity of this beautifully simple flower with the work of doing poetry itself. And in the much more dramatic closing piece, Liberation Day, by J.C. Bloem, we are given a striking panorama of new life springing up everywhere out of the devastation of World War II. Let us listen:


Het licht vlaagt over 't land in stooten
wekkend het kort en straf geflonker
der blauwe wind-gefronste sloten;
het gras gloeit op, dooft uit, is donker.
Twee lamm'ren naast een stijf grauw schaap
staan wit, bedrukt van jeugd in 't gras...
Ik had vergeten hoe het was
en dat de lente niet stil bloeien,
zacht droomen is, maar hevig groeien,
schoon hartstochtelijk beginnen,
opspringen uit een diepe slaap,
wegdansen zonder te bezinnen.

  M. Vasalis

Fits of light pass over the land in waves
awakening the short and stern sparkling
of the blue wind-wrinkled canals;
the grass lights up, goes out, is dark.
Two lambs stand white next to a stiff
gray ewe, impressed with youth in the grass...
I had forgotten how it was,
that the spring is not a silent flowering,
soft dreaming, but intense growing,
already passionate beginnings,
leaping up out of a deep sleep,
dancing away without a thought.

De Crocus

De bol op glazen vaas
Reikt witte worteldraden
In 't water: de bloembladen
Hebben een paarsig waas.

Hemel en aard en vloed
In zo doorzichtge omgrenzing,
In groei, bloei en verflenzing,
Zijn wat de dichter doet.

Zijn lied ontluikt in 't woord.
Dat houdt zijn ziel omsloten.
Zijn zang door 't licht omvloten
Sterft als het oor hem hoort.

   Albert Verwey
The Crocus

White threads of the roots reach
The globe on the glass of the vase;
In the water: the flower petals
Make a purplish haze.

Heaven and earth and tide
In so transparent a border,
In growth, flowering and withering
Are what the poet does.

His verse unfolds in word.
That holds his soul enclosed.
His song flown through with light
Dies as the ear it perceives.


Het raam is dood aan deze kant.
Het heeft geen andere kant.
De wereld werd een wand,
waartegen ik beweeg,
een vlieg, een dunne veeg.

De muren komen op mij toe;
de zolder en de vloer:
plat parallelopipedum,
vertrapt lucifersdoosje en
de put van Edgar Allan Poe.

Gij nam dimensie met u mee
uit mijn bestaan. Ik ben alleen

Gerrit Achterberg

The window is dead on this side.
It doesn't have any other side.
The world becomes a wall,
against which I move,
a fly, a thin fated sweep.

The wall approaches me;
the attic and the floor:
flat parallelopipedum,
trampled matchbox and
the pit of Edgar Allan Poe.

You, belovèd, took dimension with you
out of my existence. I am alone


Het beste van voor jaren dringt vanavond /
   tot mij door.
Al je gewone vragen vinden weer gehoor.
Regent het. Ja het regent. Goede nacht.
Laten we nu gaan slapen, zeg je zacht.
Wij luisteren en liggen. Wind beweegt /
   het raam,
Blijf zo maar liggen, zeg ik, en ik noem /
   je naam.
Alles wat antwoord is gaat van mij uit.
Je wordt vervuld van de oneindigheid.

   Gerrit Achterberg

The best of years past pushes against me again /
   this evening.
All your usual questions find again a listening ear.
Is it raining. Yes it's raining. Good night.
Let's sleep now, you say softly.
We listen and lie there. Wind blows against /
   the window,
Just stay right there, I say, and I utter /
   your name.
Everything that is answer comes from me.
You become filled with an endlessness.


Groen is de slag
van den stroom
door het dal
van den dag

heuvlen van licht
zijn de wallen

de stad is een fort

door de poorten
der bruggen
ligt zon gestort
over de ruggen
der golven

de stad is bedolven
onder het haar van de zon

Hendrik Marsman

uit: Paradise Regained (1930)

Green is the pulse
of the stream
of the valley
of this day

hills of light
are the banks

the city is a fort

through the portals
of the bridges
sun is poured
upon the backs
of waves

the city is buried
under the shining hair of the sun

Na de Bevrijding


Schoon en stralend is, gelijk toen, het voorjaar,
Koud des morgens, maar als de dagen verder
Opengaan, is de eeuwige lucht een wonder
Voor de geredden.
In 't doorzichtig waas over al de brake
Landen ploegen weder de trage paarden
Als altijd, wijl nog de nabije verten
Dreunen van oorlog.
Dit beleefd te hebben, dit heellijfs uit te
Mogen spreken, ieder ontwaken weer te
Weten: heen is, en nu voorgoed, de welhaast
Duldloze knechtschap—
Waard is het, vijf jaren gesmacht te hebben,
Nu opstandig, dan weer gelaten, en niet
Eén van de ongeborenen zal de vrijheid
Ooit zo beseffen.


Regelmaat der kerende getijden!
Wat is 't hart, dat het ooit heeft gevreesd,
Schoon het wist, dat lente 't kwam bevrijden,
Stralend als zij altijd is geweest.
Alomtegenwoordig, onverstoorbaar
Is het leven, dat den dood ontbloeit,
En de kleinste klacht schijnt nauwlijks hoorbaar,
Waar rogge om de ruïnes groeit.

   J.C. Bloem
After Liberation


Beautiful and radiant, just like then, is the spring,
Cold of morning, but as the days open up
Further, the eternal light is a miracle
For those who have been saved.
In the transparent haze upon the fallow
Land plow once again the slow workhorses
As always, even as the near-by distances
Rumble with war.
To have experienced this, to say this
with body still whole, every time awakening again
To know: it is over, and now forever, the almost
Unbearable servitude—

Worth it it was, to have languished five years,
Now rising up, then giving in again, and not
One of the unborn shall ever fully grasp
Freedom in this way.


Regular measure of the returning seasons!
What is the heart that has ever feared,
Knowing spring would come to liberate it,
Radiant as it has ever been.
Ever in the present, indestructible
Life that flowers out above death,
And the smallest of complaints seems barely audible
Where the rye about the ruins grows.

  (all tr.Cliff Crego)

Below is a little slideshow
featuring my English translations
of Rainer Maria Rilke, presented together
with a collection of images from the Alps,
very close to where much of his later poetry was composed

| view / print Picture/Poem Poster: To Winter (86 K) | or download as PDF |

* uit: 'Tijd' in Parken en Woestijnen
Recent [2001] Dutch news reports,
of interest to
r2c readers...

(1) Geen mond- en klauwzeer in

'In het bloed van de dieren die in Nederland zijn
afgemaakt in verband met de mond- en klauw-
zeerepidemie in Groot-Brittannie, zijn geen sporen
van de ziekte aangetroffen. [...] In Nederland zijn
afgelopen weekeinde enkele duizenden dieren
preventief gedood. [...] Het nationaal park
Hoge Veluwe
is daar op ingegaan; het park is
voor onbepaalde tijd vrijwel geheel gesloten
voor het publiek.'
(1) No foot-and-mouth disease in the

"Blood tests of the animals slaughtered in the
Netherlands in response to the epidemic of foot-
and-mouth disease in Great Britain have revealed
no trace of the illness. [...] During the past week-
end in Holland a few thousand animals were killed
as a preventive measure. [...] The national park,

The High Veluwe
, [near Apeldoorn] has been all
but completely closed to the public for an unspecified
period of time."
[ Look for update in 2-weeks time.]

(2) Zestien arrestaties bij protest tegen

'Bij protestacties tegen twee transporten van kern-
afval zijn zestien actievoerders aangehouden. Het
zijn zeven aanhangers van
Greenpeace en negen
leden van de actiegroep
Onkruit Vergaat Niet.
[...] De demonstranten ketenden zich vast aan
de spoorlijn.'
(2) Sixteen arrests made at nuclear waste
transport demonstration

"At protests against two transports of nuclear waste,
sixteen demonstrators were detained. They included
seven members of Greenpeace and nine of the activist
group, Weeds Forever. [...] The demonstrators had
chained themselves to the train tracks."

(3) 'Zorreguieta werkte mee aan coup'

'Jorge Zorreguieta, de vader van de vriendin van
kroonprins Willem-Alexander, had een veel
grotere rol bij de
staatsgreep van 1976 in Argentinie
dan tot nu toe werd aangenomen. [...] Hij zou bij
de voorbereidingen voor de staatsgreep zijn
betrokken vanwege zijn invloed in de landbouw-
sector. Volgens de schrijvers is hij vanaf het begin
op de hoogte geweest van de schending van
mensenrechten door het regime Videla. [...]
(3) 'Zorreguieta participated in coup'
[in Argentina]' (III.3.01)

"Jorge Zorreguieta, the father of the woman friend
of crown prince Willem-Alexander, played a much
more significant role in
the 1976 coup in Argentina
than thought up to now. [...] He evidently
participated in preparations for the coup because of
his influence in the agricultural sector. According
to the writers of the report, he was from the begin-
ning aware of the gross violations of human
rights of the Videla regime." [...]

(4) Herintroductie otter uitgesteld

'De herintroductie van de otter in Nederland, die   
in juni van dit jaar zou plaatsvinden, wordt uit-
gesteld tot volgend jaar. [...] De laatste wilde
otter in Nederland werd eind jaren tachtig bij het
Friese Joure doodgereden. Het is de bedoeling
dat er de komende vijf jaar 38 otters worden los-
gelaten in verschillende laagveen-gebieden.'
(4) Reintroduction of otter postponed

"The reintroduction of otters in the Netherlands
that was planned for this June will be delayed until
next year. [...] The last wild otter in the Netherlands
was run over by a car in Joure, Friesland [in the
north of Holland] towards the the end of the 80's.
The intention is to release over the next five years
38 otters in different areas with moor vegetation."

(5) Zwitsers tegen EU-toetreding

'De Zwitserse bevolking is in grote meerderheid   
tegen toetreding tot de Europese Unie. Via een
referendum heeft 76,7 procent van de Zwitsers
tegen onderhandelingen over het lidmaatschap
gestemd.' [...]
(5) Swiss against joining EC

"A great majority of Swiss voters has rejected
joining the
European Community. By means of
a national referendum, 76.7 percent voted
against membership negotiations." [...]

(6) Eerste homohuwelijken over enkele

'De eerste wettelijke homohuwelijken zullen op 1  
april door burgemeester Cohen van Amsterdam
worden gesloten. [...] Het homohuwelijk is hier-
mee nu opgenomen in het burgerlijk wetboek.'
(6) First homosexual marriages to take
place in a few weeks

" The first legal homosexual marriages are to take
place on the 1st of April and are to be presided
over by the mayor of Amsterdam, Cohen. [...]
With this event, homosexual marriages are now
formally a part of the [Dutch] legal code."

(7) Zestienmiljoenste Nederlander ziet
het licht

'Nederland telt sinds woensdag zestien miljoen in-
woners. Het Centraal Bureau voor de Statistiek
registreerde de zestienmiljoenste rond het middag-
uur.[...] Tien jaar geleden overschreed de Neder-
landse bevolking de grens van vijftien miljoen.
(7) 16-millionth Dutchman sees the
light of day

"Since Wednesday, the population of Holland has
crossed the 16 million mark. The Central Bureau of
Statistics registered the 16-millionth person around
noon. [...] It was ten years ago the Dutch population
crossed the 15 million threshold."

(8) Complete Dagboeken van Anne Frank

'In Amsterdam wordt maandagmiddag een nieuwe
en complete versie gepresenteerd van het wereldbe-
roemde dagboek van Anne Frank.In deze nieuwste
editie zijn ook de vier ontbrekende bladzijden uit
het dagboek opgenomen, die drie jaar geleden zijn
opgedoken. [...] Het werk van het joodse meisje
werd in 1947 voor het eerst uitgegeven onder de
titel '
Het Achterhuis'. Het is een van de best
verkochte boeken ter wereld.'

© 2001 Radio Nederland Wereldomroep
(8) Presentation complete Diary
of Anne Frank

"On Monday afternoon in Amsterdam a new and
complete version of the world famous dairy of
Anne Frank shall be presented. Included in the
new edition will be the missing pages that were
discovered three years ago. [...] This work of a
Jewish girl was published for the first time in 1947
with the title, "
The House in Back". It remains one
of the best-selling books in the world."

(tr. Cliff Crego)


"Straight roads,
Slow rivers,
Deep clay."
A collection of contemporary Dutch poetry
in English translation, with commentary
and photographs
by Cliff Crego

| See also a selection of recent Picture/Poem "Rilke in translation" features at the Rilke Archive.

See also another website
by Cliff Crego:
The Poetry of
Rainer Maria Rilke
A presentation of 80 of the
best poems of Rilke in
both German and
new English translations
biography, links, posters

| # listen to other recordings in English and German of eight poems from
The Book of Images
at The Rilke Download Page (# Includes instructions)
| back to r2c | back to Picture/Poems: Central Display |
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Photograph/Texts of Translations © 2001 Cliff Crego
III.18..2001) (revised III.16..2003)