High Road to Culture in Flanders and the Netherlands


High Road to Culture in Flanders and the Netherlands

Miriam Van hee: destination
© Michiel Hendryckx
© Michiel Hendryckx © Michiel Hendryckx
Friday Verses

Miriam Van hee: destination

This week's Friday Verses are written by Miriam Van hee. We translated bestemming (destination). This poem first appeared in Dutch in Het Liegend Konijn, a magazine for contemporary Dutch-language poetry.

Miriam Van hee (Ghent, b. 1952) is a poet and a Slavist. Her collection Winterhard (Hardy, 1988) was awarded the Jan Campert Prize, and Achter de bergen (Beyond the Mountains, 1996) won the triennial Poetry Prize of the Flemish Community. Her last collection, Ook daar valt het licht (Light Falls There Too) was nominated for the VSB Poetry Prize and the Herman De Coninck Prize. In 2018 she received the Ultima for Literature for her collection Als werden wij ergens ontboden (As if We Were Summoned Somewhere). Her work has appeared in book form in French, German, English, Spanish, Russian, Polish, Swedish, Lithuanian, Bulgarian and Afrikaans.


we drove across a wide river and the
water was peaceful, a clear day, in
the distance you could already see the mountains,
heading south, that was the mood, then

your mother was still there, you saw wheels
of hay in the fields and you thought
of the haycocks there used to be, on
the way back you thought of greenland

that is always white on the map, the clouds
were like bodies with a dark
side, more often dragons than angels, away
in the distance it rained in sheets, suddenly

a sound rang out as if they were
rebuilding the universe, it was in earnest
now, what was tenable seemed to have become
untenable, and all thoughts premature

(Dutch version below the photo)


wij reden over een brede rivier en het
water was vredig, een heldere dag, in
de verte zag je de bergen al, op naar
het zuiden, dat was de stemming, toen

was je moeder er nog, je zag wielen
van hooi op de velden en je dacht
aan de hooioppers van vroeger, op
de terugreis dacht je aan groenland

dat altijd wit is op de kaart, de wolken
leken op lichamen met een donkere
kant, vaker draken dan engelen, ginds
in de verte regende het in zuilen, plots

weerklonk een geluid als werd er
verbouwd in het heelal, het was menens
nu, wat houdbaar was, leek onhoudbaar
geworden, en alle gedachten ontijdig

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