Michel Vuijlsteke's weblog

Tales of Drudgery & Boredom.

Tag: poëzie

Kippenvel. No pun intended

Oh. Zo. Mooi. 

How to Build an Owl

  1. Decide you must.
  2. Develop deep respect
    for feather, bone, claw.
  3. Place your trembling thumb
    where the heart will be:
    for one hundred hours watch
    so you will know
    where to put the first feather.
  4. Stay awake forever.
    When the bird takes shape
    gently pry open its beak
    and whisper into it: mouse.
  5. Let it go.

Door Kathleen Lynch. J’en suis bouche bée.

Dag van de poëzie 2008

Naar jaarlijkse traditie.

Het begin van Beowulf, vertaald door Seamus Heaney. Het leest en luistert bijna als proza, maar oh hoe machtig het binnenrijm en de balanceeract van alliteraties in elke lijn. En de taal, en de beelden, en hoor hoe het scandeert, als de man zelf het brengt:

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So. The Spear-Danes in days gone by
And the kings who ruled them had courage and greatness.
We have heard of those princes’ heroic campaigns.

There was Shield Sheafson, scourge of many tribes,
A wrecker of mead-benches, rampaging among foes.
This terror of the hall-troops had come far.
A foundling to start with, he would flourish later on
As his powers waxed and his worth was proved.
In the end each clan on the outlying coasts
Beyond the whale-road had to yield to him
And begin to pay tribute. That was one good king.

Afterwards a boy-child was born to Shield,
a cub in the yard, a comfort sent
by God to that nation. He knew what they had tholed,
the long times and troubles they’d come through
without a leader; so the Lord of Life,
the glorious Almighty, made this man renowned.
Shield had fathered a famous son:
Beow’s name was known through the north.
And a young prince must be prudent like that,
giving freely while his father lives
so that afterwards in age when fighting starts
steadfast companions will stand by him
and hold the line. Behaviour that’s admired
is the path to power among people everywhere.

Shield was still thriving when his time came
and he crossed over into the Lord’s keeping.
His warrior band did what he bade them
when he laid down the law among the Danes:
they shouldered him out to the sea’s flood,
the chief they revered who had long ruled them.
A ring-whorled prow rode in the harbour,
ice-clad, outbound, a craft for a prince.
They stretched their beloved lord in his boat,
laid out by the mast, amidships,
the great ring-giver. Far-fetched treasures
were piled upon him, and precious gear
I never heard before of a ship so well furbished
with battle tackle, bladed weapons
and coats of mail. The massed treasure
was loaded on top of him: it would travel far
on out into the ocean’s sway.
They decked his body no less bountifully
with offerings than those first ones did
who cast him away when he was a child
and launched him alone out over the waves.
And they set a gold standard up
high above his head and let him drift
to wind and tide, bewailing him
and mourning their loss. No man can tell,
no wise man in hall or weathered veteran
knows for certain who salvaged that load.

Then it fell to Beow to keep the forts.
He was well regarded and ruled the Danes
for a long time after his father took leave
of his life on earth. And then his heir,
the great Halfdane, held sway
for as long as he lived, their elder and warlord.
He was four times a father, this fighter prince:
one by one they entered the world,
Heorogar, Hrothgar, the good Halga
and a daughter, I have heard, who was Onela’s queen,
a balm in bed to the battle-scarred Swede.

The fortunes of war favoured Hrothgar.
Friends and kinsmen flocked to his ranks,
young followers, a force that grew
to be a mighty army. So his mind turned
to hall-building: he handed down orders
for men to work on a great mead-hall
meant to be a wonder of the world forever;
it would be his throne-room and there he would dispense
his God-given goods to young and old—but
not the common land or people’s lives.
Far and wide through the world, I have heard,
orders for work to adorn that wallstead
were sent to many peoples. And soon it stood there,
finished and ready, in full view,
the hall of halls. Heorot was the name
he had settled on it, whose utterance was law.
Nor did he renege, but doled out rings
and torques at the table. The hall towered,
its gables wide and high and awaiting
a barbarous burning. That doom abided,
but in time it would come: the killer instinct
unleashed among in-laws, the blood-lust rampant.

Then a powerful demon, a prowler through the dark,
nursed a hard grievance. It harrowed him
to hear the din of the loud banquet
everyday in the hall, tha harp being struck
and the clear song of a skilled poet
telling wih mastery of man’s beginnings,
how the Almighty had made the earth
a gleaming plain girdled with waters;
in His splendour He set the sun and the moon
to be earth’s lamplight, lanterns for men,
and filled the broad lap of the world
with branches and leaves; and quickened life
in every other thing that moved.

Hoe ongelooflijk moet het niet geweest zijn om daar bij geweest te zijn, als een skald zijn lier bovenhaalde en zijn ding deed. Als man, welteverstaan. Krijger. En al.

Dit is het begin van het origineel, baai de weei:

Hwæt! Wé Gárdena      in géardagum
þéodcyninga      þrym gefrúnon·
hú ðá æþelingas      ellen fremedon.

Oft Scyld Scéfing      sceaþena þréatum
monegum maégþum      meodosetla oftéah·
egsode Eorle      syððan aérest wearð
féasceaft funden      hé þæs frófre gebád·
wéox under wolcnum·      weorðmyndum þáh
oð þæt him aéghwylc      þára ymbsittendra
ofer hronráde      hýran scolde,
 gomban gyldan·      þæt wæs gód cyning.

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Omdat een mens niet altijd moet wachten tot het dag van de poëzie is!

What voice did on my spirit fall,
Peschiera! When thy bridge I cross’d?
“‘Tis better to have fought and lost
Than never to have fought at all!”

The tricolour — a trampled rag
Lies, dirt and dust; the lines I track
By sentry boxes, yellow-black,
Lead up to no Italian flag.

I see the Croat soldier stand
Upon the grass of your redoubts;
The eagle with his black wings flouts
The breadth and beauty of your land.

Yet not in vain, although in vain,
O men of Brescia! on the day
Of loss past hope I heard you say
Your welcome to the noble pain.

You said — “Since so it is, goodbye,
Sweet life! High hope! But whatsoe’er
May be, or must, no tongue shall dare
To tell — the Lombard fear’d to die.”

You said (O not in vain you said) —
“Haste, brothers! Haste, while yet we may,
The hours ebb fast of this one day
When blood may yet be nobly shed.”

Ah! Not for idle hatred, not
For honour, fame, nor self-applause,
But for the glory of the Cause
You did what will not be forgot.

And though the stranger stand, ‘tis true, —
By force and fortune’s right he stands :
By fortune, which is in God’s hands;
And strength, which yet shall spring in you.

This voice did on my spirit fall,
Peschiera! When thy bridge I cross’d;
“Tis better to have fought and lost
Than never to have fought at all.”

      — Arthur Hugh Clough, 1849

Zondag gedichtendag

The Tollund Man

Some day I will go to Aarhus
To see his peat-brown head,
The mild pods of his eye-lids,
His pointed skin cap.

In the flat country near by
Where they dug him out,
His last gruel of winter seeds
Caked in his stomach,

Naked except for
The cap, noose and girdle,
I will stand a long time.
Bridegroom to the goddess,

She tightened her torc on him
And opened her fen,
Those dark juices working
Him to a saint’s kept body,

Trove of the turfcutters’
Honeycombed workings.
Now his stained face
Reposes at Aarhus.


I could risk blasphemy,
Consecrate the cauldron bog
Our holy ground and pray
Him to make germinate

The scattered, ambushed
Flesh of labourers,
Stockinged corpses
Laid out in the farmyards,

Tell-tale skin and teeth
Flecking the sleepers
Of four young brothers, trailed
For miles along the lines.


Something of his sad freedom
As he rode the tumbril
Should come to me, driving,
Saying the names

Tollund, Grauballe, Nebelgard,
Watching the pointing hands
Of country people,
Not knowing their tongue.

Out here in Jutland
In the old man-killing parishes
I will feel lost,
Unhappy and at home.

Seamus Heaney

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