Who doesn’t know Mont Ventoux? This French mountain has played a role of importance during the Tour de France editions that were held over the years. It inspired Jan Kal, a Dutch poet, to write a beautiful poem about this mountain.
About the poet
Jan Kal (full name: Johannes Pieter Kal) was born on 18 December 1946 in the Dutch city Haarlem. Over the years he played a role of importance in the Dutch literature. Especially when it comes down to writing sonnets.
Kal has been publishing work since 1966. The poem Mont Ventoux is from his first publication, Fietsen op de Mont Ventoux (Cycling up Mont Ventoux), that was published in 1974. This poet is well known for his tributes to sports figures, such as Johan Cruijff.
By Jan Kal
Writing poetry is like cycling on Mont Ventoux,
where Tommy Simpson passed away.
Under such tragic conditions
the world champion became dead-beat.
On this col many have ridden away,
first category, from that time taboo.
It smells like pine, Sunsilk Shampoo,
that you wil need, when finally below.
Everything is inexpressible tiring;
Riding Mont Ventoux is very extreme,
wich includes: look before you leap.
Still, I will, even when the heat is scorching,
the top of this bald mountain:
vanity and chasing the wind.
Sometimes it is difficult to translate terminology. Especially when one considers the fact that some of the words are based on words of another language. For instance a col is a small passing between two mountains. The cycling world has adopted this French term and uses this to describe these locations.
Door Jan Kal
Dichten is fietsen op de Mont Ventoux,
waar Tommy Simpson toen is overleden.
Onder zo tragische omstandigheden
werd hier de wereldkampioen doodmoe.
Op deze col zijn vele losgereden,
eerste categorie, sindsdien taboe.
Het ruikt hier naar dennengeur, Sunsilk Shampoo,
die je wel nodig hebt, eenmaal beneden.
Alles is onuitsprekelijk vermoeiend;
de Mont Ventoux opfietsen is wel heel erg,
waarvoor ook geldt: bezint eer gij begint.
Toch haal ik, ook al is de hitte verschroeiend,
de top van deze kaalgeslagen berg:
ijdelheid en het najagen van de wind.