One of the most influencial Dutch poets when it comes to poems about the Second World War in The Netherlands is Paul Rodenko. In his poem Bommen (Bombs) he describes the epilogue and aftermath of a bombardement.

About the poet

Paul Rodenko (born as Paul Thomas Basilius Rodenko on November 26th 1920) was a son of an English mother and a Russian father. During the war he worked for the resistance by writing for the magazines Maecenas and Parade der Profeten (Parade of the Prophets). Those were illegal distributed magazines, because they opposed to the German occupation of The Netherlands (1940-1945).

Just like Hans Andreus he was part of the literary movement De Vijftigers (The Fiftiers). At the movement started (at the end of the fourties), he lived in Paris. Here is was influenced by existentialism and surrialism. He made sure that everyone would know about what the war did to people. He didn’t limit himself to The Netherlands. The words he wrote could be applied to many European countries that saw the destructive power of war.

If you place things into perspective of this modern time, I dare to be so bold to say that the work of Rodenko applies to the whole world. Today we live in a world where people hoist flags every day, once the bombs stop falling. Flags in many shapes and sizes, but with different colors.

About the poem

As I made clear, the war had a great influence on Rodenko. This poem is about the epilogue and aftermath of a bombardement. It’s unclear who is responsible for this. That is not the question to ask, since the casualties were on both sides. Today they still are.



By Paul Rodenko

It’s quiet in the metropolis
The streets
have expanded.
Kangaroos look through the window holes.
A woman passes.
The echo picks rushed
her steps.


It’s quiet in the metropolis
A cat rolls stiffly from the window frame.
As a block the light moves
Silently three four bombs fall on the square
and three and four houses hoist tedious
their red flags


The original version



Door Paul Rodenko

De stad is stil.
De straten
hebben zich verbreed.
Kangeroes kijken door de venstergaten.
Een vrouw passeert.
De echo raapt gehaast
haar stappen op.


De stad is stil.
Een kat rolt stijf van het kozijn.
Het licht is als een blok verplaatst.
Geruisloos vallen drie vier bommen op het plein
en drie vier huizen hijsen traag
hun rode vlag.

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