And now it is time for…

The cow

Right, as I was struggling to translate a Dutch poem from the Belgian poet Paul van Ostaijen, my eye fell on another poem. This poem was written by Jacob Israël de Haan. As I decided to say goodbye to the idea to give a proper translation to the made-up words of Van Ostaijen, I decided to focus on other things.

It isn’t even a good Dutch phrase, the one of Paul van Ostaijen. As he mentioned a youngster riding his bicycle, he used the words ploem, ploem as rhyme. It would therefore be a better idea to share some short Dutch poems with you, translated to English.



By Jacob Israël de Haan

He would in Amsterdam often say: “Jerusalem”
And was driven to Jerusalem,
He says with a dreamy voice:
“Amsterdam, Amsterdam.”



Door Jacob Israël de Haan

Die te Amsterdam vaak zei: “Jeruzalem”
En naar Jeruzalem gedreven kwam,
Hij zegt met een mijmerende stem:
“Amsterdam, Amsterdam.”

Call it irony, but De Haan was assassinated on 30 June 1924… In Jerusalem. He was assassinated by a Jewish paramilitary organisation. This short poem shows the wish for Jews who thought they wanted to move from Amsterdam to Jerusalem. Finally, there, they got homesick and wanted to get back to Amsterdam.


By H. Marsman

Foaming tomorrow

And my fiery Smile

drinks from immense scales
of air and ground
the opals day


By H. Marsman

Schuimende morgen

En mijn vuren lach

drinkt uit ontzaggelijke schalen
van lucht en aarde
de opalen dag


Waking up to witness this must be amazing. How I wish my mornings would be like this! However, my mornings consists of reviewing amazing and beautiful poetry of others for The Ministry of Poetic Affairs. Something that I am actually be very proud of!

Moving on with more intensity, let’s talk about cows for a brief moment with the poem of K. Schippers.

The cow

By K. Schippers

The cow

A cow
is an odd animal
whatever in her mind
will be
her last word
is always

De koe

Door K. Schippers

Een koe
is een merkwaardig beest
wat er ook in haar geest
moge zijn
haar laatste woord
is altijd

Interesting thoughts! The reason why we posted these short poems, is to inspire you. Not only by writing your own poetry and submitting these poems to us, but also: we can use help on translating existing poems to English. Are you interested in doing that, please contact us for more information.

You can use the contact form below to send us a message about the translation of poems. Of course you will be credited as the translator.

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