In Memoriam

In 1921, the Dutch poet J.W.F. Werumeus Buning wrote a poem for his loved one, who passed away. In memoriam was also the title of the book this poem was part of. Read our translation of this Dutch poem.

Johan Willem Frederik Werumeus Buning (shortened to J.W.F. Werumeus Buning) took it upon himself to become a notary. He gave up this study to become an art editor for a Dutch newspaper. He started writing when a friend of him told he was good at this.

In 1921, the first poems were published under the title In Memoriam. Six years later he published the book Hemel en Aarde (Heaven and Earth). He tried out ballad style poetry. It was this form of poetry that made him rather successful.

During the war Werumus Buning decided to join the Dutch Kultuurkamer. In Germany, this institution was started in the thirties under the name Reichskulturkammer. Its goal was to control all forms of art and writing. Only those who were part of this institution were allowed to publish. Because of this membership, Werumus Buning wasn’t allowed to publish anything for a period of one year after the war was over. He became less popular.

During the time, he wasn’t allowed to publish anything under his own name, he took it upon him to translate work of others: Shakespeare, Cervantes and Herman Melville. He made his comeback as a writer in 1941, when he published the poem Aan Hollandsch Water (On Dutch Water).

Werumus Buning died on November 16 1958 in Amsterdam.

In Memoriam

By J.W.F. Werumeus Buning

Such a tender damage as flowers fear
Of the soft rain in the month of May,
So cold and tender has your death
Done me damage, that will never heal.

Once, when we arose after a night together
The roses lay moist and broken, I and thou
Knew that long night the rain, I neither thou
Could never cure of tenderness.

Thou hast kept the white and pink rose petals
in your small hand, – they fell
Moist and shuddering again in the deep grass.

How will ‘s heart from tender damage
Cure, as roses fell around thou,
Now your hands are silent, deep in the grass.


In Memoriam

By J.W.F. Werumus Buning

In Memoriam

Zo tedere schade als de bloemen vrezen
Van zachte regen in de maand van mei,
Zo koel en teder heeft uw sterven
Mij schade aangedaan, die nimmer zal genezen.

Eens, toen wij na de nacht tezaam verrezen
Lagen de rozen vochtig en gebroken, ik en gij
Wisten die lange nacht de regen, ik noch gij
Konden van teerheid immermeer genezen.

Gij hebt de witte en roze rozenbladen
Gebeurd in uwe smalle hand, – zij vielen
Vochtig en sidderend weer in ’t diepe gras.

Hoe zal dan ’t hart van even tedere schade
Genezen, nu om u de rozen vielen,
Nu uwe handen stil zijn, diep in ’t gras.



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