The Dutch writer and poet Willem Wilmink (1936-2003) is known for his simple poems and songs for children. He was able to pen down his more deeper thoughts, as you can read in the poem Girls playing. This is a translation of the Dutch original Spelende meisjes. This poem is one of the many wall poems in the Dutch city of Leiden.
Walking in Leiden, one will notice the large amount of poetry painted (by hand) on the wall. Most of them are part of an art project. This art project, Tegen Beeld, started out with the painting of a Russian poem by the hand of Marina Tsvetajeva. Willem Wilmink is one of the many poets who is included in this project.
About the poet
Wilmink was born in Enschede and studied and taught at the University of Amsterdam. He also wrote many different song lyrics, that were performed by a wide variety of (Dutch) artists. He also wrote books for children and adults.
The poems of Wilmink are often categorised as simple. This doesn’t give his work the honor it deserves. Wilmink wrote some beautiful poems, including Spelende meisjes (Girls playing). This poem tells the story about the way the poet (Wilmink) sees the world. A dark place and there might nog be hope left for humanity. Then he walks into a street and sees children, girls, play there. It gives him hope and strenght for the future.
Wilmink’s poem is quite up to date. Take in consideration the way people in many different countries see immigrants. This poem shows that there is so much more than the original nationality of people. Let’s hope it inspires those who need it.
The translation of this poem was done by Harm Jagerman.
Full of ideas so glooming
Into a street I was walking
where girls where playing
and we started talking.
Turkish and Surinamese
and they hardly new about these ideas,
they just played there.
My dark despair
of a world that was perishing
faided in the light of these children
to a memory.
For these girls with their eyes so kind
and with their hair so beautiful
will give birth to offspring
for the next thousand of years.
The original poem, in Dutch, is painted on the wall of a house at the Maredijk (corner Poelgeeststraat) in Leiden, as you can see below.
Vol sombere doemgedachten
geraakte ik in een straat
waar meisjes aan ‘t spelen waren
en we kwamen aan de praat.
Turkse en Surinaamse
en ze hadden er nauwelijks weet van,
ze speelden daar gewoon.
Mijn sombere visioenen
van een wereld die verging
vervaagden in ‘t licht van die kinderen
tot een herinnering.
Want die meisjes met aardige ogen
en met hun prachtige haar
zullen de kinderen baren
voor de komende duizend jaar.