High Road to Culture in Flanders and the Netherlands


High Road to Culture in Flanders and the Netherlands

Bart Van der Straeten: Truth
Friday Verses

Bart Van der Straeten: Truth

This week's Friday Verses are written by Bart Van der Straeten. We translated De waarheid (Truth). This poem was first published in Dutch in Het Liegend Konijn, a magazine for contemporary Dutch-language poetry.

Bart van der Straeten (Gent, b. 1979) writes reviews, essays, reports and poems. In 2014 he published the collection onbalans (imbalance), for which he was awarded the Literary Prize of the Province of East Flanders. Other poems appeared in the poetry magazine Het Liegend Konijn.


what shall we say of truth
is truth of value why

can’t we
swim in it (the sea)
or walk in it
like in a wood
past wind and woe
(woodworm and mugwort)

a bubble in which
or from which (but to where)
a sliding scale
and voices everywhere
(shale gas pays off)

what we understand of truth
we don’t understand
like the dancing bee
with its hives full of pollen
stolen from the bottom
of yet another flower

so the climbing rose has its truth
the cherry the mulberry
pear and olive
weed and herb
and the figs that swell
from their fattened
innermost fruit
the grapevine, exempted
they have their truth and we

do not

we must speak of
the song of the blackbird at morning
and evening, the chirp of the blue
and other tits, of the sun, yes, the sun
and its fiery ray and the watchful drought (danger)

who took the truth of the water away
who took the ebb from the flow and who the spring tide
who recently took
the water levels
and who
got stuck in the slit

who will say that we are lonely (coming to an end)
who will plead for care

what will truth sing to us, siren
in the light of the fading light

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