From rhyme to free verse

Have you ever translated a poem? I just did. I translated the Dutch poem by Hendrik Marsman – “Herinnering aan Holland” (“Reminder to Holland”)-  from Dutch to English. This is not an easy task to do. The poem changed. From rhyme to free verse. Since free verse is also considered to be poetry, I left it as it was.


Herinnering aan Holland

The poem “Herinnering aan Holland” was chosen as the Dutch poem of the Twentieth Century.

Herinnering aan Holland

Denkend aan Holland
zie ik breede rivieren
traag door oneindig
laagland gaan,
rijen ondenkbaar
ijle populieren
als hooge pluimen
aan den einder staan;
en in de geweldige
ruimte verzonken
de boerderijen
verspreid door het land,
boomgroepen, dorpen,
geknotte torens,
kerken en olmen
in een grootsch verband.
de lucht hangt er laag
en de zon wordt er langzaam
in grijze veelkleurige
dampen gesmoord,
en in alle gewesten
wordt de stem van het water
met zijn eeuwige rampen
gevreesd en gehoord.

The English translation is different on one part. In order to use a correct translation, one sentence needed change.

Reminder to Holland

Thinking of Holland
I see wide rivers
slow through infinity,
through the low country,
rows unthinkable
like high plumes
standing at the horizon
and in he great
plain recessed
the farms
spread across the land,
groups of trees, villages,
truncated towers
churches and elms
in a grand context
de sky hangs low
and the sun is slowly
in gray colourful
and in all regions
the voice of the water
with it’s endless disater
is feared and heard

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