Poetry International Poetry International
Poem

H.H. ter Balkt

THE ANIMAL CRUSADE

One day all the sties and burrows opened
And out came the cave-bear the mammoth the seafaring
cormorant, that poetic diving bird, the white-headed vulture
the rock-goat from the mountains, the sea unicorn
You could see by their snouts that they meant business
You could hear by their flapping wings and their burr
They had thrown off their humility, cast down their yoke
once imposed by Adam’s secretive hero
the one with the garden
They were, to cut a long story short, fed up
And the morals of the shotgun had been cast off
the flayed skin of flight had faded
The viper walked tall and the swine wore polaroid glasses
that lent him pleasant looks. The beavers
gnawed down telegraph poles and so cut off any form of communication
Predictably enough, the lion led the way black black
as black gold and gold-coloured as deep black
It was a magnificent procession, blinding to the eye
At the back the unicorn reported as missing, the dodo the passenger pigeon
as well as various viruses and the elated spermatozoids
So the holy animals
travelled the holy world

And do you know how or why?
Oh no, they just went travelling, they didn’t have a flag!
Sometimes ripped up laws out of sheer happiness
or bled a city dry
Now and then trampled on a Jesus
or struck down a prophet or a princess
They were beginning to get tired
Haste no longer necessary
The one day’s deities left the fire

DE KRUISTOCHT DER DIEREN

DE KRUISTOCHT DER DIEREN

Op een dag openden de hokken en de holen
Naar buiten kwam de holenbeer de mammoet de zeevarende
aalscholver, cormorant in verzen, de witkopgier
de steenbok uit de bergen, de dolkdragende haai
Je kon aan hun snuiten zien dat het ernst was
Je kon het horen aan hun vleugelslag en hun gebrom
Ze hadden afgelegd hun verootmoediging, neergeworpen hun juk
eertijds opgelegd door die geheimzinnige held van Adam
die met zijn tuin
Ze hadden er kort en goed tabak van
En afgeworpen lag de moraal van het jachtgeweer
het afgestroopte vel van de vlucht verbleekte
De adder liep rechtop en het zwijn droeg polaroid glazen
die hem een aangenaam uiterlijk gaven. De bevers
knaagden telefoonpalen om en verbraken zo iedere communicatie
Wat te voorspellen was, voorop ging de leeuw zwart zwart
als zwart goud en goudkleurig als diepzwart
Het was een schitterende stoet, oogverblindend
Achteraan de eenhoorn als vermist opgegeven, de dodo de trekduif
alsmede de virussen en de uitgelaten spermatozoïden
Zo trokken
de heilige dieren door de heilige wereld

En weten jullie ook hoe of waarom?
O nee, ze trokken zo maar wat, ze hadden geen vlag!
Verscheurden soms van blijdschap een wet
of molken een stad uit
Vertrapten af en toe een Jezus
of velden een profeet of een prinses
Ze werden langzaamaan toch moe
Haast was niet meer nodig
De eendagsgoden verlieten het vuur
Close

THE ANIMAL CRUSADE

One day all the sties and burrows opened
And out came the cave-bear the mammoth the seafaring
cormorant, that poetic diving bird, the white-headed vulture
the rock-goat from the mountains, the sea unicorn
You could see by their snouts that they meant business
You could hear by their flapping wings and their burr
They had thrown off their humility, cast down their yoke
once imposed by Adam’s secretive hero
the one with the garden
They were, to cut a long story short, fed up
And the morals of the shotgun had been cast off
the flayed skin of flight had faded
The viper walked tall and the swine wore polaroid glasses
that lent him pleasant looks. The beavers
gnawed down telegraph poles and so cut off any form of communication
Predictably enough, the lion led the way black black
as black gold and gold-coloured as deep black
It was a magnificent procession, blinding to the eye
At the back the unicorn reported as missing, the dodo the passenger pigeon
as well as various viruses and the elated spermatozoids
So the holy animals
travelled the holy world

And do you know how or why?
Oh no, they just went travelling, they didn’t have a flag!
Sometimes ripped up laws out of sheer happiness
or bled a city dry
Now and then trampled on a Jesus
or struck down a prophet or a princess
They were beginning to get tired
Haste no longer necessary
The one day’s deities left the fire

THE ANIMAL CRUSADE

One day all the sties and burrows opened
And out came the cave-bear the mammoth the seafaring
cormorant, that poetic diving bird, the white-headed vulture
the rock-goat from the mountains, the sea unicorn
You could see by their snouts that they meant business
You could hear by their flapping wings and their burr
They had thrown off their humility, cast down their yoke
once imposed by Adam’s secretive hero
the one with the garden
They were, to cut a long story short, fed up
And the morals of the shotgun had been cast off
the flayed skin of flight had faded
The viper walked tall and the swine wore polaroid glasses
that lent him pleasant looks. The beavers
gnawed down telegraph poles and so cut off any form of communication
Predictably enough, the lion led the way black black
as black gold and gold-coloured as deep black
It was a magnificent procession, blinding to the eye
At the back the unicorn reported as missing, the dodo the passenger pigeon
as well as various viruses and the elated spermatozoids
So the holy animals
travelled the holy world

And do you know how or why?
Oh no, they just went travelling, they didn’t have a flag!
Sometimes ripped up laws out of sheer happiness
or bled a city dry
Now and then trampled on a Jesus
or struck down a prophet or a princess
They were beginning to get tired
Haste no longer necessary
The one day’s deities left the fire
Sponsors
Gemeente Rotterdam
Nederlands Letterenfonds
Stichting Van Beuningen Peterich-fonds
Ludo Pieters Gastschrijver Fonds
Hendrik Muller fonds
Lira fonds
J.E. Jurriaanse
Literature Translation Institute of Korea
Partners
LantarenVenster – Verhalenhuis Belvédère