High Road to Culture in Flanders and the Netherlands


High Road to Culture in Flanders and the Netherlands

Sara Eelen: Genesis
Friday Verses

Sara Eelen: Genesis

This week's Friday Verses are written by Sara Eelen. We translated Genesis. This poem was first published in Dutch in Het Liegend Konijn, a magazine for contemporary Dutch-language poetry.

Sara Eelen (b. 1994, Leuven) photographs, films and writes. For the latter she has won various prizes, including the 2018 and 2019 Poetry Competition of the Town of Harelbeke, the Babylon Inter-University Prize in 2015 and 2018 and Frappant Txt-on-stage in 2015. Her poems have been published in Het Liegend Konijn, Deus Ex Machina, Kluger Hans and de Poëziekrant. She has performed on various stages, such as ‘Nuff Said and The Night of the Word, where she cast her poems as personalised future predictions or whispered them to people in the dark.


We are still immortal. It does not bother anyone or anything
what we feel for each other, not even a voice at the back of the mind
that sows doubt: so undeveloped this land,
only the squeaky heads of thoughts germinating.
The innocence of beginning makes shame superfluous
whenever I show you my boundaries are flexible, my ideals malleable
and you are always the mould.

Later this endless loving will prove incurable,
like a plague running riot over plants in bloom,
locusts that paint the sky black.

Later your voice will start to catch in your throat
when you try to take us back to what we said
at the very beginning. For words only start to weigh
when they cannot rest on anything. The innocence.
seeps lightly through them.

Life may roll out like a soft blanket,
in the end it shows how all that time
it kept something hard and dead inside.

(Dutch version below the photo)


We zijn nog onsterfelijk. Het hindert niets of niemand
wat we voor elkaar voelen, zelfs geen stem in het achterhoofd
die twijfel zaait: zo onontgonnen deze grond,
alleen maar de piepende hoofdjes van gedachtes die ontkiemen.
De onschuld van beginnen maakt schaamte overbodig
telkens ik je toon dat mijn grenzen buigzaam, mijn idealen kneedbaar
en dat jij steeds de vorm.

Later zal dit eindeloze houden van ongeneeslijk blijken,
als een plaag die woekert over gewassen in bloei,
sprinkhanen die de hemel zwart verven.

Later zal je stem wel gaan stokken in de keel
als je ons probeert terug te voeren naar wat we zeiden
helemaal in het begin. Want woorden gaan alleen maar wegen
als ze nergens op kunnen rusten. De onschuld
sijpelt er losjes doorheen.

Het leven rolt zich dan wel uit als een zacht deken,
op het einde toont het hoe het al die tijd
iets hards en doods bewaarde binnenin.

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