Love according to Floortje

A sad day, this March 2nd. At least when it comes to the beliefs of Floortje Peneder. This Dutch writer published only one book during her life: Het dagboek van Floortje Peneder (The diary of Floortje Peneder). This book tells the story between 1989 and 1993, the year she died.


We commemorate Floortje Peneder on March 2nd. She died 25 years ago in a hospital in the Dutch city Amsterdam. She was diagnosed with leukaemia in 1989. Several treatments, including a bone marrow transplantation, were unsuccessful. Her wish was that her diary would be published. Nowadays, this book is on the top lists of most-read books by Dutch students. It shows that cancer is a horrible disease, that destroys hopes and dreams.

Floortje would have celebrated her 41st birthday today if it wasn’t for her death at the age of only fifteen years old. When she was finally diagnosed untreatable, she wrote the following:

“A race against the clock that you will never win. Finishing knitting this wool sweater before you run out of wool. Slowly I fly away, to the land of serenity.”

This book is very popular with young adults. The question is Why? It shows that everyone can get sick in the way that Floortje did. The knowledge that this book was written by someone who died of this terrible disease and the grim future she was facing makes this book – her message – even more strong.



When taking a close look at the poem – especially the Dutch version – we can conclude that this may not be the best poem ever written. The knowledge that this girl did not grow up to become a writer or anything she would have hoped for, makes this poem, Liefde (Love), more intense. It is the longing to hope and to be able to love.

Take into consideration that this poem was written in 1989 when Floortje was only twelve years old…



Roses wilt
Roses parish
Parish in flower beds
Love keeps on existing

Love that has yet to arrive
Love of the past
Love not existing of hate
Warmth will be given

To be in love at the very beginning
To be in love, such a strange feeling
To be in love, in whatever way?
How is it meant to be?

A kiss in the reed
A kiss around the corner
The flower does not forget me

Frolic in the grass
Frolic sweet and felt
That is true love
Does it apply to everyone?

Dreaming for hours
Thinking of no one else
Your life has changed

Turning into yourself
Silence surrounds you
Thinking of the one who you coveted
Sometimes a little too much

Walk on clouds
Butterflies in your stomach
New doors open
It’s infatuation that you smell

Think of the one
Who stole your heart
Like him, there is no other
Romantic love and its grip

He doesn’t realise it
What you feel for him
You almost want to hate him
But that’s his own fault


Floortje Peneder


(Translation: Harm Jagerman)

The original version:


Rozen verwelken
Rozen vergaan
Verwelken in bloemenperken
Maar liefde blijft bestaan

Liefde die nog komen gaat
Liefde in het verleden
Liefde niet bestaand uit haat
Warmte word gegeven

Verliefd zijn in het begin
Verliefd zijn, raar gevoel
Verliefd zijn in wat voor een zin
Hoe word het toch bedoeld?

Een kusje in het riet
Een kusje om de hoek
De bloem vergeet mij niet
Succes dat wordt geboekt

Stoeien in het gras
Stoeien lief gemeend
Dat is liefde pas
Geldt dat voor iedereen?

Dromen uren achtereen
Denken aan geen ander
Dromen, helemaal alleen
Je leven is verandert

In jezelf teruggekeerd
Stilte om je heen
Denken aan wie je had begeerd
Soms iets te veel

In de wolken lopen
Vlinders in je buik
Nieuwe deuren gaan open
’t Is verliefdheid die je ruikt

Denken aan degeen
Die je hart gestolen heeft
Zoals hij is er geen een
Verliefdheid en zijn greep

Niets heeft-tie in de gaten
Van wat je voor hem voelt
Je zou hem bijna haten
Maar dat is z’n eigen schuld

— Floortje Peneder


This article is also available on our Dutch website. Click here for the Dutch version of this article.

Dit artikel is ook beschikbaar in het Nederlands. Klik hier voor de Nederlandse versie van dit artikel.

Love according to Floortje
Article Name
Love according to Floortje
Read more about the poem of the Dutch Floortje Peneder: "Liefde" ("Love").
Publisher Name
The Ministry of Poetic Affairs
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