Esther Jansma: Invasion
This week's Friday Verses are written by Esther Jansma. We translated Invasie (Invasion). This poem was first published in Dutch in Het Liegend Konijn, a magazine for contemporary Dutch-language poetry.
Esther Jansma (b. 1958, Amsterdam) has published ten volumes of poetry since 1988, including two collected works. The latter, a selection of her own work, was published by Prometheus in 2015 under the title Forever somewhere. Together with Wiljan van den Akker she translated poems by the American poet Mark Strand and wrote the novel De Messias (Prometheus 2015) under the pseudonym Julian Winter. Her work has been awarded the VSB Poetry Prize, the Adriaan Roland Holst Penning and the Jan Campert Prize, among others. She is currently preparing a new collection of poems.
Suddenly they were there, lots of them orderly
packed together on ships, in carts, in cohorts
running, sprinting, thundering this way
whetting their knives to the beat of drums
which already for days had rolled out their heartbeat
inside us: they had come to stay.
After the cattle they took the women and daughters.
The men were rounded up. Strange
lands shone in their eyes. Almost blandness.
(Dutch version below the photo)
Esther Jansma © Bert van As
Opeens waren ze er, systematisch met velen
samengepakt op schepen, in wagens, in cohorten
rennend en dravend deze kant op gedenderd
de messen slijpend op de slagen van trommels
die al dagen van verre hun hartslag in ons
hadden uitgerold: ze kwamen om te blijven.
Na het vee namen ze de vrouwen en dochters.
De mannen werden bijeengedreven. Vreemde
streken blonken in hun ogen. Bijna verveling.