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Roel Richelieu Van Londersele: Promises
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Roel Richelieu Van Londersele: Promises

Six years after the publication of his collected poems De Bruiden (The Brides) and one year after his novel Reis naar mijn vader (Journey to my father), Roel Richelieu Van Londersele lets the lonely characters of Edward Hopper speak in his collection Hopper on the hill. The poems are printed in both Dutch and English.

Roel Richelieu Van Londersele (b. 1952, Ninove) has produced eleven volumes of poetry. He was Ghent’s first city poet. He has won numerous literary prizes, including the Prize for Literature of the City of Ghent, the Louis Paul Boon Prize, the Herman de Coninck Public Prize 2010 and the Melopee Poetry Prize for the most enduring poem to appear in Flemish literary magazines in 2011. He founded the magazine Koebel, in which many contemporaries made their debut and recently set up the website Het Gezeefde Gedicht to give unpublished poets an outlet. The De Zeef publishing house is a spin-off of this initiative. He is also active as a novelist.

In his latest collection Hopper on the hill, Roel Richelieu Van Londersele is inspired by the paintings of Edward Hopper. The people who inhabit his paintings are bathed in a touching solitude, even when in company. Van Londersele first creates penetrating poetic portraits and subsequently attempts to bring the characters into contact with each other. This leads to intriguing dialogues and tentative love poems, but the approaches are doomed to failure and the protagonists withdraw, with resignation, though without recrimination, back into their own cocoons.

Promises

he will build a square for her,
install spring with his own hands

when she arrives, he will shake off the hero’s role,
humbly show her the way to her own dance floor

they don’t go for soppy songs
but for rapture

they don’t laugh for the pleasure of it,
but to hear each other

when their plans grow through the roof,
the house will not resist

they will ban slamming doors
to the banked-up bonfires

he will lift her up until everyone is speechless,
cupid jealously sheaths his arrows

and when they enter evening exhausted,
they will lie down beside sleep,
every night rescue love with their own hands

Beloftes

hij zal een plein voor haar aanleggen,
de lente er eigenhandig installeren

als ze arriveert, zal hij de heldenrol van zich af schudden,
haar nederig de weg tonen naar haar eigen dansvloer

ze gaan niet voor het lauwe lied,
maar voor de verrukking

ze lachen niet om het plezier,
maar om elkaar te horen

als hun plannen door het dak groeien,
zal het huis zich niet verweren

slaande deuren zullen ze verbannen
naar de aangewakkerde brandstapels

hij zal haar optillen tot iedereen sprakeloos wordt,
cupido jaloers zijn pijlen opbergt

en als ze uitgeput de avond ingaan,
zullen ze naast de slaap gaan liggen,
elke nacht de liefde eigenhandig redden

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