The ballad of the sea

Ballad of the sea

The Dutch poem “Ballade van de zee” (“Ballad of the sea”) was a good temptation for me. I wanted to use rhyme while translation this poem from Charles Ducal. This took some work, but I finally was pleased with the result.

About the poet

Charles Ducal is the pseudonym for the Belgian poet and writer Frans Dumortier. He became the first “Dichter des Vaderlands” (“Poet Laureate”) of Belgium. He fulfilled this positon till 2016.

About the poem

Do you remember Aylan? I won’t show you the horrific photos that were taken of him. He drowned like so many others while he was fleeding from Syria. In case you missed it, there is a war going on there. People fled, across the sea. Many of these fugitives have died. Aylan was only three years old.

Why translated?

Of course, the poem can loose it’s strength when being translated. In order to experience the powerful writings of Charles Ducal, I’ve decided to translate this poem. Below you will find the English version and the Dutch version.

Ballad of the sea

By Charles Ducal


Not the wind, but an angry snout
exthinguist the candle. A song of a king drowned


Who ever waited for him, went insane of mouring
and jumped in tot sea. Both of them turned into a chanson


Is the water too deep, one buys a ticket
for a ferry. The distance is not too wicked*


The lives on board, they weigh so hefty
and there is a light on board. Even though there is no chandelier, no airy


On the other side, there is a party going on
Men eats the world, for centuries long


Should de corpses wash up on the coast, they are cought
and become still afterwards. A minute long a voice by God


Afterwards, the snouts close the fort by blowing
At the gate there is a warship waiting


The dead in the sea, they also become lullabies
It doesn’t sing, it cries


And yet, they still not hear a thing

*: This is translated to wicked, where the original is about the distance not being that far (great).

The original


Ballade van de zee

Door Charles Ducal


Niet de wind, maar een boze mond
doofde de kaars. De koningszoon verdronk.


Wie op hem wachtte werd gek van verdriet
en sprong in zee. Beiden werden een lied.


Is het water te diep, koopt men een plaats
op een boot. De afstand is niet zeer groot.


De levens aan boord, zij wegen zo zwaar
en de boot is licht. Ook brandt er geen kaars.


Aan de overkant is nog een feest aan de gang.
Men eet er de wereld, al eeuwen lang.


Spoelen de lijken aan, vangt men ze op
en wordt stil. Een minuut lang spreekt God.


Daarna blazen monden het fort weer dicht,
voor de poort ligt een oorlogsschip.


De doden in zee, ook zij worden een lied.
Het zingt niet, het huilt.


En toch hoort men het niet.

We found this poem on this website. It’s automatically translated for you by Google Translate.

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